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Full text of "Saint Chrysostom and Saint Augustin"

REGIS 
L. MA] 
< COLLEGE 




STUDIES IN CHRISTIAN BIOGRAPHY. 



SAINT CHRYSOSTOM 



AND 



SAINT AUGUSTIN. 

REGIS 
BIBL. MAT 

N COLLEGE 



PHILIP SCHAFF, D.D., LLD., 

Professor of Church History in the Union Theological Seminary, New York. 



NEW YORK : 

THOMAS WHITTAKER, 

2 AND 3 BIBLE HOUSE. 

1891. 



89260 



COPYRIGHT, 1891, 
BY THOMAS WHITTAKER 



DeMcateb 

TO THE REVERED MEMORY OF 

J. B. LIGHTFOOT, D.D., D.C.L., LL.D., 

Late Lord Bishop of Durham. 



PEEFACE. 



MY friend, Mr. Thomas Whittaker, proposes to pub 
lish a series of Studies in Christian Biography, devoted 
to the leaders of Christian thought and Christian life, in 
ancient, mediaeval, arid modern times. 

He requested me to open the series with biographical 
sketches of St. Chrysostom, the greatest of the Greek, 
and St. Augustin, the greatest of the Latin Fathers. 

To this proposal I readily consented, with the under 
standing that I could make free use of material which I 
had previously prepared and recently enlarged as editor 
of translations of the chief works of these Fathers.* 

The memory of St. Chrysostom and St. Augustin can 
never die. They left their mark on every page of Church 
history, and their teaching and example will continue to 
prepare preachers and divines for their work. Petrarch 
carried the Confessions of St. Augustin always in his 
pocket ; he called him " the philosopher of Christ" and 
" the sun of the Church," and made him his confessor 
in the autobiographical Dialogue on the Contempt of 
the World. A high admiration of these truly great and 
good men is quite consistent with an acknowledgment 
of their defects and errors. There is a safe medium be- 

* The Nicene and Post-Nicene Library, First Series, contains the 
works of St. Augustin in 8 vols., and the works of St. Chrysostom in G 
vols.,with Prolegomena and notes. They were published (as subscrip 
tion books) by the Christian Literature Company, New York, 1886-90. 



yi PREFACE. 

tween a slavish overestimate and a haughty underesti 
mate of the Fathers. No man is perfect save Christ, 
and no man can be our master in the highest sense but 
Christ. Amicus Chrysostomus, amicus Augustinus, sed 
magis arnica veritas. 

It was in this spirit of free evangelical catholicity that 
the lamented Bishop Liglitfoot, the greatest patristic, 
scholar of England, prepared his monumental work on 
the Apostolic Fathers. 1 have taken the liberty to dedi 
cate this unpretending little volume to his memory. I 
regret I have nothing more worthy to offer, but I know 
he would receive it with the kindness of a friend and 
co-worker in the service of truth. He wrote to me 
once that he had received the first impulse to his histori 
cal studies from my History of the Apostolic Church ; and 
yet I have learned more from him than he could ever 
learn from me. He invited me to contribute certain 
articles to Smith and Wace s Dictionary of Christian 
Biography (then under his charge), and sent me all his 
works as they appeared. Only a few days ago I re 
ceived, " with the compliments of the Trustees of the 
LIGHTFOOT FUND," his posthumous edition of St. Clement 
of Rome, with an autotype of the Constantinopolitan 
text a worthy companion of his St. Ignatius and St. 
Polycarp. The Bible Eevision labors brought us into 
still closer relations. His book on Revision (which I re- 
published with his consent), and his admirable commen 
taries on Galatians, Colossians, and Philippians, greatly 
aided the movement in this country. I shall not forget 
my pleasant interviews with him at Cambridge, London, 
Durham, and Auckland Castle. He left a rare example 
of reverent and modest Christian scholarship that aims 
first and last at the investigation and promotion of truth. 

NEW YORK, December 12, 1890. P. S. 



SAINT CHRYSOSTOM. 

PAGK 

INTRODUCTORY .... 11 

CIIAPTEII I. Chrysostom s Youth and Training, A.D. 347-370. . 13 

CHAPTER II. His Conversion and Ascetic Life, A.D. 370-374 15 

CHAPTER III. Chrysostom evades Election to a Bishopric. His 

Woik on the Priesthood 18 

CHAPTER IV. Chrysostom as a Monk, A.D. 374-381 21 

CHAPTER V. Chrysostom as Deacon, Priest and Preacher at An- 

tioch, A.D. 381-398 23 

CHAPTER VI. Chrysostom as Patriarch of Constantinople, A.D. 

398-404 28 

CHAPTER VII. Chrysostom and Theophil us. His First Banish 
ment 30 

CHAPTER VIII. Chrysostom and Eudoxia. His Second Banish 
ment, A.D. 403 33 

CHAPTER IX. Chrysostom in Exile, and his Death, A.D. 404-407 85 

CHAPTER X. His Character 38 

CHAPTER XI. The Writings of Chrysostom 41 

CHAPTER XII. His Theology and Exegesis 42 

CHAPTER XIII. Chrysostom as a Preacher 50 

Literature 54 



SAINT AUGUSTIN. 

INTRODUCTORY 57 

CHAPTER I. Augustin s Youth G3 

CHAPTER II. Augustin at Carthage 69 

CHAPTER III. Cicero s Hortensius 71 

CHAPTER IV. Augustin Among the Manichaeans 73 

CHAPTER V. The Loss of a Friend 76 

CHAPTER VI. Augustin Leaves Manichoeism 78 

CHAPTER VII. Error Overruled for Truth. . . 80 



yiii CONTENTS. 

PAQB 

CHAPTER VIII. Augustin a Skeptic in Rome 82 

CHAPTER IX. Augustiu at Milan. St. Ambrose 85 

CHAPTER X. Augustin a Catechisman in the Catholic Church. 91 

CHAPTER XI. Monnica s Arrival 96 

CHAPTER XII. Moral Conflicts. Project of Marriage 97 

CHAPTER XIII. Mental Conflicts 100 

CHAPTER XIV. Influence of Platonism 102 

CHAPTER XV. Study of the Scriptures 104 

CHAPTER XVI. Augustin s Conversion 106 

CHAPTER XVII. Sojourn in the Country 113 

CHAPTER XVIII. Augustin s Baptism 118 

CHAPTER XIX. Monnica s Last Days and Death 120 

CHAPTER XX. Second Visit to Rome, and Return to Africa . . . 127 
CHAPTER XXI. Augustin is Appointed Priest and Bishop of 

Hippo 129 

CHAPTER XXII. Augustin s Domestic Life 131 

CHAPTER XXIII. Administration of the Episcopal Office and 

Public Activity 133 

CHAPTER XXIV. Last Years and Death 136 

CHAPTER XXV. Augustin s Writings 138 

CHAPTER XXVI. Influence of Augustin on His Own and Suc 
ceeding Ages 148 

CHAPTER XXVII. The Augustinian System 155 

Literature.. 158 



SAINT CHBYSOSTOM. 



SAINT CHETSOSTOM. 

" Glory be to God for all things." Chrysostom s Motto. 



INTRODUCTORY. 

"Almighty God, who hast given us grace at this time with one ac 
cord to make our common supplications unto Thee ; and dost 
promise, that when two or three are gathered together in Thy name 
Thou wilt grant their requests: fulfil now, O Lord, the desires and 
petitions of Thy servants, as may be most expedient for them ; 
granting us in this world knowledge of Thy truth, and in the world 
to come life everlasting. Amen.". 

THIS beautiful and comprehensive prayer, which is 
translated from the Greek Liturgy of St. Chrysostom, 
and goes under his name, has made him a household 
word wherever the Anglican Book of Common Prayer 
is known and used. 

JOHN, surnamed CHKYSOSTOM (looavrtjS Xpvffoffro- 
/eo), is the greatest pulpit orator and commentator of the 
Greek Church, and still deservedly enjoys the highest 
honor in the whole Christian world. No one of the 
Oriental Fathers has left a more spotless reputation ; no 
one is so much read and so often quoted by modern 
preachers and commentators. An admiring posterity, 
since the close of the fifth century, has given him the 
surname Chrysostom (The Golden Mouth), which has 
entirely superseded his personal name John, and which 
best expresses the general estimate of his merits. 



SAINT CHRYSOSTOM. 



His life may be divided into five periods : (1) His 
youth and training till his conversion and baptism, A.D. 
347-70. (2) His conversion, and ascetic and monastic life, 
370-81. (3) His public life as priest and preacher at 
Antioch, 381-98. (4) His episcopate at Constantinople, 
398-404. (5) His exile to his death, 404-407. 



CHAPTER I. 

CHRYSOSTOM S YOUTH AND TRAINING, A.D. 347-370. 

JOHN (the name by which alone he is known among 
contemporary writers and his first biographers) was born 
in 347, at Antioch, the capital of Syria, and the home 
of the mother church of Gentile Christianity, where the 
disciples of Jesus were first called " Christians." 

His father, Secundus, was a distinguished military 
officer (tnagister militum) in the imperial army of Syria, 
and died during the infancy of John, without professing 
Christianity, as far as we know. His mother, Anthusa, 
was a rare woman. Left a widow at the age of twenty, 
she refused all offers of marriage, and devoted herself 
exclusively to the education of her only son and his older 
sister. She was probably from principle averse to a 
second marriage, according to a prevailing view of the 
Fathers. She shines, with Nonna and Monnica, among 
the most pious mothers of the fourth century, who 
prove the ennobling influence of Christianity on the 
character of woman, and through her on all the family 
relations. Anthusa gained general esteem by her ex 
emplary life. The famous advocate of heathenism, Li- 
banius, on hearing of her consistency and devotion, felt 
constrained to exclaim : " Bless me ! what wonderful 
women there are among the Christians. 1 " 

She gave her son the best education then attainable, 
and early planted in his soul the germs of piety, which 
afterward bore rich fruits for himself and the Church. 
By her admonitions and the teaching of the Bible, he 



14 SAINT CHRYSOSTOM. 

was secured against the seductions of heathenism which 
at that time still was the religion of half of the popula 
tion of Antioch. 

Yet he was not baptized till he had reached the age of 
maturity. In that period of transition from heathenism to 
Christianity, the number of adult baptisms far exceeded 
that of infant baptisms. Hence the large baptisteries 
for the baptism of crowds of converts ; hence the many 
sermons and lectures of Chrysostom, Cyril of Jerusalem, 
and other preachers to catechumens, and their careful 
instruction before baptism and admission to the Missa 
Fidelium or the holy communion. Even Christian 
parents, as the father and mother of Gregory Nazianzen, 
the mo ther of Chrysostom, and the mother of Augustiri, 
put off the baptism of their offspring, partly no doubt 
from a very high conception of baptism as the sacrament 
of regeneration, and from the superstitious fear that early 
baptism involved the risk of a forfeiture of baptismal 
grace. This was the argument which Tertullian in the 
second century urged against infant baptism, and this 
was the reason why many professing Christians put off 
their baptism till the latest hour ; just as now so many 
from the same motive delay repentance and conversion 
to their death-bed. The Emperor Constantine who 
favored Christianity as early as 312, arid convened the 
(Ecumenical Council of Nicsea in 325, postponed baptism 
till 337, shortly before his death. The orthodox Em 
peror Theodosius the Great was not baptized till the 
tirst year of his reign (380), when attacked by a serious 
illness. Chrysostom, however, did not approve such 
delay, but often rebuked it. 

Chrysostom received his literary training chiefly from 
Libanius, the admirer and friend of the Emperor Julian 
the Apostate, and the first classical scholar and rheto- 



HIS COKVERSIO^ AND ASCETIC LIFE. 15 

rician of liis age, who after a long career as public 
teacher at Athens and Constantinople, returned to his 
native Antioch and had the misfortune to outlive the 
revival of heathenism under Julian and to lament the 
triumph of Christianity under his successors. He was 
introduced by him into a knowledge of the Greek classics 
and the arts of rhetoric, which served him a good pur 
pose for his future labors in the Church. He was his 
best scholar, and when Libanius, shortly before his death 
(about 393), was asked whom he wished for his successor, 
lie replied : " John, if only the Christians had not 
stolen him from us." 

After the completion of his studies Chrysostom be 
came a rhetorician, and began the profitable practice of 
law, which opened to him a brilliant political career. 
The amount of litigation was enormous. The display of 
talent in the law courts was the high-road to the dignities 
of vice-prefect, prefect, and consul. Some of his 
speeches at the bar excited admiration and were highly 
commended by Libanius. For some time, as he says, 
he was " a never- fail ing attendant at the courts of law, 
and passionately fond of the theatre." But he was not 
satisfied. The temptations of a secular profession in a 
corrupt state of society discouraged him. To accept a 
fee for making the worse cause appear the better cause, 
seemed to him to take Satan s wages. 



CHAPTER II. 

HIS CONVERSION AND ASCETIC LIFE. 

THE quiet study of the Scriptures, the example of his 
pious mother, the acquaintance with Bishop Meletius, 



16 SAINT CH11YSOSTOM. 

and the influence of his intimate friend Basil, who was 
of the same age and devoted to ascetic life, combined to 
produce a gradual change in his character. 

He entered the class of catechumens, and after the 
usual period of three years of instruction and probation, 
he was baptized by Meletius in his twenty-third year 
(369 or 370). From this time on, says Palladius, " he 
neither swore, nor defamed any one, nor spoke falsely, 
nor cursed, nor even tolerated facetious jokes. " His bap 
tism marked, as in the case of St. Augustin, the turning 
point in his life, an entire renunciation of this world and 
dedication to the service of Christ. The change was 
radical and permanent. 

Meletius, who foresaw the future greatness of the 
young lawyer, wished to secure him for the active ser 
vice of the Church, and ordained him to the subordinate 
office of lector (anagnostes, reader), about A.D. 370. 
The lectors had to read the Scripture lessons in the first 
part of divine service (the " Missa Catechumenorum"), 
and to call upon the people to pray, but could not preach 
nor distribute the sacraments. 

The first inclination of Chrysostom after baptism was 
to adopt the monastic life. This was, according to the 
prevailing notions of the Church in that age, the safest 
mode of escaping the temptations and corruptions of the 
world, cultivating holiness, and securing the salvation of 
the soul. But the earnest entreaties of his mother pre 
vailed on him to delay the gratification of his desire. 
He relates the scene with dramatic power. She took 
him to her chamber, and by the bed where she had 
given him birth, she adjured him with tears not to for 
sake her. " My son," she said in substance, " my only 
comfort in the midst of the miseries of tin s earthly life 
is to see thee constantly, and to behold in thy traits the 



HIS CONVERSION AND ASCETIC LIFE. 17 

faithful image of my beloved husband who is no more. 
This comfort commenced with your infancy before you 
could speak. I ask only one favor from you : do not 
make me a widow a second time ; wait at least till 1 
die ; perhaps I shall soon leave this world. When you 
have buried me and joined my ashes with those of your 
father, nothing will then prevent you from retiring into 
monastic life. But as long as I breathe, support me by 
your presence, and do net draw down upon you the 
wrath of God by bringing such evils upon me who have 
given you no offence." 

These tender, simple, and impressive words suggest 
many heart-rending scenes caused by the ascetic entlmsi-^^,,.. 
asm for separation from the sacred ties of the family. It a : 
is honorable to Chrysostom that he yielded to the reason 
able wishes of his devoted mother. He remained with 
her, but turned his home into a monastery. lie secluded 
himself from the world and practised a rigid asceticism. 
He ate little and seldom, and only the plainest food, slept 
on the bare floor, and frequently rose to prayer. He 
kept almost unbroken silence to prevent a relapse into 
the habit of slander or uncharitable censure. 

His former associates at the bar called him unsociable^ 
and morose. But two of his fellow-pupils under Libanius^w 
joined him in his ascetic life, Maximus (afterward bishop - 
of Seleucia), and Theodore of Mopsuestia. They studied 
the Scriptures under the direction of Diodorus (after 
ward bishop of Tarsus), the founder of the Antiochian 
school of theology, of which Chrysostom and Theodore 
became the chief ornaments. 

Theodore was warmly attached to a young lady named 
Herrnione, and resolved to marry and to leave the ascetic 
brotherhood. This gave rise to the earliest treatise of 
Chrysostom namely, an Exhortation to Theodore, in 



18 SAINT CHRYSOSTOM. 

two letters. He plied all liis oratorical arts of sad sym 
pathy, tender entreaty, bitter reproach, and terrible 
warning, to reclaim his friend to what he thought the 
surest and safest way to heaven. " To sin," he says, "is 
human, but to persist in sin is devilish ; to fall is not 
ruinous to the soul, but to remain on the ground is." 

The appeal had its desired effect ; Theodore resumed his 
monastic life and became afterward bishop of Mopsuestia 
in Cilicia and one of the first biblical scholars. The 
arguments which Chrysostorn used would condemn all 
who broke their monastic vows. They retain moral 
force only if we substitute apostasy from faith for apos 
tasy from monasticism, which must be regarded as a 
temporary and abnormal or exceptional form of Christian 
life. 



CHAPTER III. 

CHRYSOSTOM EVADES ELECTION TO A BISHOPRIC. HIS 
WORK ON THE PRIESTHOOD. 

ABOUT this time several bishoprics were vacant in 
Syria, and frequent depositions took place with the 
changing fortunes of orthodoxy and Arianism, and the 
interference of the court. The attention of the clergy 
and the people turned to Chrysostom and his friend 
Basil as suitable candidates for the episcopal office, 
although they had not the canonical age of thirty. 

Chrysostom shrunk from the responsibilities and avoid 
ed an election by a pious fraud. He apparently assented 
to an agreement with Basil that both should either ac 
cept, or resist the burden of the episcopate, but instead 
of that he concealed himself and put forward his friend 



HIS WORK ON THE PRIESTHOOD. 19 

whom he accounted ranch more worthy of the honor. 
Basil, under the impression that Chrysostom had already 
been consecrated, reluctantly submitted to the election. 
"When he discovered the cheat, he upbraided his friend 
with the breach of compact, but Chrysostom laughed 
and rejoiced at the success of his plot. This conduct, 
which every sound Christian conscience must condemn, 
caused no offence among the Christians of that age, still 
less among the heathen, and was regarded as good man 
agement or " economy." The moral character of the 
deception was supposed to depend altogether on the 
motive, which made it good cr bad. Chrysostom ap 
pealed in justification of laudable deception to the strat 
agems of war, to the conduct of physicians in dealing with 
refractory patients, to several examples of the Old Testa 
ment (Abraham, Jacob, David), and to the conduct of 
the Apostle Paul in circumcising Timothy for the sake 
of the Jews (Acts xvi. 3) and in observing the cere 
monial law in Jerusalem at the advice of James (Acts 
xxi. 26). 

The Jesuitical maxim, " the end justifies the means," 
is much older than Jesuitism, and runs through the whole 
apocryphal, pseudo-prophetic, pseudo-apostolic, pseudo- 
Clementine and pseudo-Isidorian literature of the early 
centuries. Several of the best Fathers show a surprising 
want of a strict sense of veracity. They introduce a 
sort of cheat even into their strange theory of redemp 
tion, by supposing that the Devil caused the crucifixion 
under the delusion that Christ was a mere man, and 
thus lost his claim upon the fallen race. Origen, Chry 
sostom, and Jerome explain the offence of the collision 
between Paul and Peter at Antioch (Gal. ii. 11 sqq.) 
away by turning it into a theatrical and hypocritical 
farce, which was shrewdly arranged by the two apostles 



20 SAIXT CHRYSOSTOM. 

for the purpose of convincing the Jewish Christians that 
circumcision was not necessary. Against such wretched 
exegesis the superior moral sense of Augustin rightly 
protested, and Jerome changed his view on this particu 
lar passage. Here is a point where the modern standard 
of ethics is far superior to that of the Fathers, and more 
fully accords with the spirit of the New Testament, 
which inculcates the strictest veracity as a fundamental 
virtue. 

The escape from the episcopate was the occasion for 
one of the best and most popular works of Chrysostorn, 
the six books " On the Priesthood," which he wrote 
probably before his ordination (between 375 and 381), 
or during his diaconate (between 381 and 386). It is 
composed in the form of a Platonic dialogue between 
Chrysostom and Basil. He first vindicates by argument 
and examples his well-meant but untruthful conduct 
toward his friend, and the advantages of timely fraud ; 
and then describes with youthful fervor and eloquence 
the importance, duties, and trials of the Christian min 
istry, without distinguishing between the priestly and 
the episcopal office. He elevates it above all other 
offices. lie requires whole-souled consecration to Christ 
and love to his flock. He points to the Scriptuies 
(quoting also from the Apocrypha) as the great weapon 
of the minister. He assumes, as may be expected, the 
then prevailing conception of a real priesthood and 
sacrifice, baptismal regeneration, the corporal presence, 
the virtue of absolution, prayers for the dead, but is 
silent about pope and councils, the orders of the clerg} T , 
prayers to saints, forms of prayer, priestly vestments, 
incense, crosses and other doctrines and ceremonies of 
the Greek and Roman churches. He holds up St. Paul 
as a model for imitation. The sole object of the preacher 



CHRYSOSTOM AS A MOXK. 21 

must be to please God rather than men (Gal. i. 10). 
" He must riot indeed despise approving demonstrations, 
but as little must he court them, nor trouble himself 
when they are withheld." He should combine the 
qualities of dignity arid humility, authority and sociabil 
ity, impartiality and courtesy, independence and lowli 
ness, strength and gentleness, and keep a single eye to 
the glory of Christ and the welfare of the Church. 

This book is the most useful or at least the best known 
among the works of Chrysostom, and is well calculated 
to inspiie a profound sense of the tremendous responsi 
bilities of the ministry. But it has serious defects, be 
sides the objectionable justification of pious fraud, and 
cannot satisfy the demands of an evangelical minister. 
In all that pertains to the proper care of souls it is in 
ferior to the " Reformed Pastor" of Richard Baxter. 



CHAPTER IV. 

CHRYSOSTOM AS A MONK. A.D. 374-381. 

AFTER the death of his mother, Chrysostom fled from 
the seductions and tumults of city life to the monastic 
solitude of the mountains south of Antioch, and there 
spent six happy years in theological study and sacred 
meditation and prayer. Monasticisrn was to him (as to 
many other great teachers of the Church, and even to 
Luther) a profitable school of spiritual experience and 
self-government. He embraced this mode of life as 
" the true philosophy" from the purest motives, and 
brought into it intellect and cultivation enough to make 
the seclusion available for moral and spiritual growth. 



22 SAINT CHRYSOSTOM. 

He gives us a lively description of the bright side of 
this monastic life. The monks lived in separate cells or 
huts (Kakvfiai), but according to a common rule and 
under the authority of an abbot. They wore coarse gar 
ments of camel s hair or goat s hair over their linen 
tunics. They rose before sunrise, and began the day by 
singing a hymn of praise and common prayer under the 
leadership of the abbot. Then they went to their allotted 
task, some to read, others to write, others to manual 
labor for the support of the poor. Four .hours in each 
day were devoted to prayer and singing. Their only 
food was bread and water, except in case of sickness. 
They slept on straw couches, free from care and anxiety. 
There was no need of bolts and bars. They held all 
things in common, and the words of " mine and thine," 
which cause innumerable strifes in the world, were un 
known among the brethren. If one died, he caused no 
lamentation, but thanksgiving, and was carried to the 
grave amid hymns of praise ; for he was not dead, but 
" perfected," and permitted to behold the face of Christ. 
For them to live was Christ, and to die was gain. 

Chrysostom was an admirer of active and useful mon- 
asticism, and warns against the dangers of idle contem 
plation. He shows that the words of our Lord, " One 
thing is needful ;" " Take no anxious thought for the 
morrow ;" " Labor not for the meat that perisheth," do 
not inculcate total abstinence from work, but only undue 
anxiety about worldly things, and must be harmonized 
with the apostolic exhortation to labor and to do good. 
He defends monastic seclusion on account of the prevail 
ing immorality in the cities, which made it almost -im 
possible to cultivate there a higher Christian life. 

In this period, from 374 to 381, Chrysostom composed 
his earliest writings in praise of moriasticism and celibacy. 



CHRYSOSTOM AT ANTIOCII. 23 

The letters " to the fallen Theodore," have already been 
mentioned. The three books against the Opponents of 
Monasticism were occasioned by a decree of the Arian 
Emperor Yalens in 373, which aimed at the destruction 
of that system arid compelled the monks to discharge 
their duties to the state by military or civil service. 
Chrysostom regarded this decree as a sacrilege, and the 
worst kind of persecution. 



CHAPTER Y. 

CHRYSOSTOM AS DEACON, PRIEST, AND PREACHER AT 
ANTIOCII. A.I). 381-398. 

BY excessive self-mortifications John undermined his 
health, and returned to Antioch. There he was imme 
diately ordained deacon by Meletius in 380 or 381, and 
a few years afterward presbyter by Flavian (386). 

As deacon he had the best opportunity to become ac 
quainted with the practical needs of the population, the 
care of the poor and the sick. After his ordination to 
the priesthood he preached in the presence of the bishop 
his first sermon to a vast crowd. It abounds in flowery 
Asiatic eloquence, in humble confession of his own un- 
worthiness, and exaggerated praise of Meletius and 
Flavian. 

He now entered upon a large field of usefulness, the 
real work of his life. The pulpit was his throne, and 
he adorned it as much as any preacher of ancient or 
modern times. 

Antioch was one of the great capitals of the Roman 
empire, along with Alexandria, Constantinople, and 



24 SAIXT CHRYSOSTOM:. 

Home. Nature and art combined to make it a delight 
fill residence, though it was often visited by inundations 
and earthquakes. An abundance of pure water from 
the river Orontes, a large lake and the surrounding hills, 
fertile plains, the commerce of the sea, imposing build 
ings of Asiatic, Greek, and Roman architecture, rich 
gardens, baths, and colonnaded streets, were among its 
chief attractions. A broad street of four miles, built by 
Antiochus Epiphanes, traversed the city from east to 
west ; the spacious colonnades on either side were paved 
with red granite. Innumerable lanterns illuminated the 
main thoroughfares at night. The city was supplied 
with good schools and several churches ; the greatest of 
them, in which Chrysostom preached, was begun by the 
Emperor Constantino and finished by Constantius. The 
inhabitants were Syrians, Greeks, Jews, and Romans. 
The Asiatic element prevailed. The whole population 
amounted, as Chrysostom states, to 200,000, of whom 
one-half were nominally Christians, Heathenism was 
therefore still powerful as to numbers, but as a religion 
it had lost all vitality. This was shown by the failure 
of the attempt of the Emperor Julian the Apostate to re 
vive the sacrifices to the gods. When he endeavored, in 
362, to restore the oracle of Apollo Daphneus in the famous 
cypress grove at Antioch and arranged for a magnificent 
procession, with libation, dances, and incense, he found 
in the temple one solitary old priest, and this priest 
ominously offered in sacrifice a goose ! Julian himself 
relates this ludicrous farce, and vents his anger at the 
Antiochians for squandering the rich incomes of the 
temple upon Christianity, and worldly amusements. 

Chrysostom gives us in his sermons lively pictures of 
the character of the people and the condition of the 
Church. The prevailing vices, even among Christians, 



CHRYSOSTOM AT ANTIOCH. 25 

were avarice, luxury, sensuality, and excessive love of 
the circus and the theatre. " So great," he says, " is 
the depravity of the times, that if a stranger were to 
compare the precepts of the gospel with the actual prac 
tice of society, he would infer that men were not the 
disciples, but the enemies of Christ." Gibbon thus de 
scribes the morals of Antioch : " The warmth of the 
climate disposed the natives to the most intemperate en 
joyment of tranquillity and opulence, and the lively licen 
tiousness of the Greeks was blended with the hereditary 
softness of the Syrians. Fashion was the only law, 
pleasure the only pursuit, and the splendor of dress and 
furniture was the only distinction of the citizens of An 
tioch. The arts of luxury were honored, the serious and 
manly virtues were the subject of ridicule, and the con 
tempt for female modesty and reverent age announced 
the universal corruption of the capital of the East. Tho 
love of spectacles was the taste, or rather passion of the 
Syrians ; the most skilful artists were procured from the 
adjacent cities. A considerable share of the revenue 
was devoted to the public amusements, and the magnifi 
cence of the games of the theatre and circus was consid 
ered as the happiness and as the glory of Antioch." 

The Church of Antioch was rent for eighty-five years 
(330-415) by heresy and schism. There were three 
parties and as many rival bishops. The Heletians, under 
the lead of Meletius, were the party of moderate ortho 
doxy holding the Nicene Creed ; the Arians, headed by 
Eudoxius, and supported by the Emperor Yalens, denied 
the eternal divinity of Christ ; the Eustathians, under 
the venerated priest Paulinus, were in communion with 
Athanasius, but were accused of Sabellianism, which 
maintained the Divine unity and strict deity of Christ 
and the Holy Spirit, but denied the tri-personality ex- 



xJO SAIKT CHRYSOSTOM. 

cept in the form of three modes of self-revelation. 
Pope Damasus declared for Paulinus and condemned 
Meletius as a heretic. Alexandria likewise sided against 
him. Meletius was more than once banished from his 
see, and recalled. He died during the sessions of the 
Council of Constantinople, 381, over which he presided 
for a while. His remains were carried with great sol 
emnities to Antiocli and buried by the side of Babylas 
the Martyr. Chrysostom reconciled Flavian, the suc 
cessor of Meletius, with Alexandria and Rome in 398. 
Alexander, the successor of Flavian, led the Eustathians 
back into the orthodox Church in 415, and thus unity 
was restored. 

Chrysostom preached Sunday after Sunday, arid during 
Lent sometimes twice or oftener during the week, even 
five days in succession, on the duties and responsibilities 
of Christians, and fearlessly attacked the immorality of 
the city. He declaimed with special severity against the 
theatre and the chariot-races ; and yet many of his hear 
ers would run from his sermons to the circus to witness 
those exciting spectacles with the same eagerness as Jews 
and Gentiles. lie exemplified his preaching by a blame 
less life, and soon acquired great reputation and won the 
love of the whole congregation. Whenever he preached 
the church was crowded. He had to warn his hearers 

j against pickpockets, who found an inviting harvest in 
these dense audiences. 

I A serious disturbance which took place during his 
career at Antiocli, called forth a remarkable effort of his 
oratorical powers. The populace of the city, provoked 
by excessive taxes, rose in revolt against the Emperor 
Theodosius the Great, broke down his statues and those 
of his deceased excellent wife Flacilla (d. 385), and his 
eon Arcadius, dragged the fragments through the streets, 



CHRYSOSTOM AT ANTIOCH. 27 

and committed other acts of violence. The Emperor 
threatened to destroy the whole city. This caused gen 
eral consternation and agony, but the city was saved by 
the intercession of Bishop Flavian, who in his old age 
proceeded to Constantinople and secured free pardon 
from the Emperor. Although a man of violent temper, 
Theodosius had profound reverence for bishops, and on 
another occasion he submitted to the rebuke of St. Am 
brose for the wholesale massacre of the Thessalonians 
(390). 

In this period of public anxiety, which lasted several 
months, Chrysostom delivered a series of extempore 
orations, in which he comforted the people and exhorted 
them to correct their vices. These are his tv/enty-one 
" Homilies on the Statues," so-called from the over 
throw of the imperial statues which gave rise to them. 
They were preached during Lent 387. In the same year 
St. Augustin submitted to baptism at the hands of St. 
Ambrose in Milan. One of the results of those sermons 
was the conversion of a large number of heathens. Thus 
the calamity was turned into a blessing to the Church. 

During the sixteen or seventeen years of his labors in 
Antioch Chrysostom wrote the greater part of his homi 
lies and commentaries ; a consolatory epistle to the de 
spondent Stagirius ; the excellent book on the martyr 
Babylas, which illustrates by a striking example the 
divine power of Christianity ; a treatise on Virginity, 
which he puts above marriage ; and an admonition to a 
young widow on the glory of widowhood, and the duty 
of continuing in it. He disapproved of second marriage, 
not as sinful or illegal, but as inconsistent with an ideal 
conception of marriage and a high order of piety. 



28 SAINT CHRYSOSTOM. 



CHAPTER VI. 

CHRYSOSTOM AS PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE. A.D. 

398-404. 

AFTER the death of Nectarius (successor to Gregory 
Nazianzen), toward the end of the year 397, Chrysostom 
was chosen, entirely without his own agency and even 
against his remonstrance, archbishop of Constantinople. 
He was hurried away from Antioch by a military escort, 
to avoid a commotion in the congregation and to make 
resistance useless. Tie was consecrated February 26th, 
398, by his enemy Theophilus, patriarch of Alexandria, 
who reluctantly yielded to the command of the Emperor 
Arcadius or rather his prime minister, the eunuch Eutro- 
pius, and nursed his revenge for a more convenient 
season. 

Constantinople, built by Constantine the Great in 330, 
on the site of Byzantium, assumed as the Eastern capital 
of the Roman Empire the first position among the epis 
copal sees of the East, and became the centre of court 
theology, court intrigues, and theological controversies. 
The second oecumenical council, which was held there in 
381, under Theodosius the Great, the last Roman em 
peror worthy of the name (d. 395), decided the victory 
of Nicene orthodoxy over the Arian heresy, and gave 
the bishop of Constantinople a primacy of honor, next 
in rank to the bishop of old Rome a position which 
was afterward confirmed by the Council of Chalcedon in 
451, but disputed by Pope Leo and his successors. 

Chrysostom soon gained by his eloquent sermons the 
admiration of the people, of the weak Emperor Area- 



CHRYSOSTOM AT CONSTANTINOPLE. 29 

dius, and, at first, even of his wife Eudoxia, with whom 
lie afterward waged a deadly war. He extended his 
pastoral care to the Goths who were becoming numerous 
in Constantinople, had a part of the Bible translated for 
them, often preached to them himself through an inter 
preter, and sent missionaries to the Gothic and Scythian 
tribes on the Danube. He continued to direct by corre 
spondence these missionary operations even during his 
exile. For a short time he enjoyed the height of power 
and popularity. 

But he also made enemies by his denunciations of the 
vices and follies of the clergy and aristocracy. He 
emptied the episcopal palace of its costly plate and furni 
ture and sold them for the benefit of the poor and the hos 
pitals. He introduced his strict ascetic habits and re 
duced the luxurious household of his predecessors to the 
strictest simplicity. lie devoted his large income to 
benevolence. He refused invitations to banquets, gave 
no dinner parties, and ate the simplest fare in his solitary 
chamber. He denounced unsparingly luxurious habits 
in eating and dressing, and enjoined upon the rich the 
duty of almsgiving to an extent that tended to increase 
rather than diminish the number of beggars who swarmed 
in the streets and around the churches and public baths. 
He disciplined the vicious clergy and opposed the peril 
ous and immoral habit of unmarried priests of living 
under the same roof with " spiritual sisters." This 
habit dated from an earlier age, and was a reaction 
against celibacy. Cyprian had raised his protest against 
it, and the Council of Nicrea forbade unmarried priests 
to live with any females except close relations. Chrysos- 
tom s unpopularity was increased by his irritability and 
obstinacy, and his subservience to a proud and violent 
archdeacon, Serapion. The Empress Eudoxia was jeal- 



30 SAIXT CHRYSOSTOM. 

ous of his influence over her husband, Arcadius, and 
angry at his uncompromising severity against sin and 
vice. She became the chief instrument of his downfall. 
The occasion was furnished by an unauthorized use of 
his episcopal power beyond the lines of his diocese, 
which was confined to the city. At the request of the 
clergy of Ephesus and the neighboring bishops, he vis 
ited that city in January, 401, held a synod and deposed 
six bishops convicted of shameful simony. During his 
absence of several months he left the episcopate of Con 
stantinople in the hands of Severian, bishop of Gabala, 
an unworthy and adroit flatterer, who basely betrayed 
his trust and formed a cabal headed by the Empress and 
her licentious court ladies, for the ruin of Chrysostom. 
On his return he used unguarded language in the pulpit, 
and spoke of Elijah s relation to Jezebel in a manner 
that Eudoxia understood it as a personal insult. The 
clergy were anxious to get rid of a bishop who was too 
severe for their lax morals. 



CHAPTER VII. 

CHRYSOSTOM AND THEOPHILUS. HIS FIRST BANISHMENT 

AT this time Chrysostom became involved in the 
Origenistic controversies which are among the most vio 
lent and most useless in ancient Church history, and full 
of personal invective and calumny. The object in 
dispute was the orthodoxy of the great Origen, which 
long after his death was violently assailed and as vio 
lently defended. 

Theophilus of Alexandria, an able and vigorous but 



CHRYSOSTOM AXD THEOPHILUS. 31 

domineering, contentious and unscrupulous prelate, was 
at first an admirer of Origen, but afterward in conse 
quence of a personal quarrel joined the opponents, con 
demned his memory and banished the Origeriistic monks 
from Egypt. Some fifty of them, including the four 
" Tall Brethren," so-called on account of their extraor 
dinary stature, fled to Constantinople and were hospit 
ably received by Chrysostom (401). He had no sym 
pathy with the philosophical speculations of Origen, but 
appreciated his great merits, and felt that injustice was 
done to the persecuted monks. He interceded in their 
behalf with Theophiluis, who replied with indignant re 
monstrance against protecting heretics and interfering 
with the affairs of another diocese. 

Theopliilus, long desirous of overthrowing Chrysos 
tom, whom he had reluctantly consecrated, set every 
instrument in motion to take revenge. He sent the 
octogenarian bishop Epiphanius of Salamis, a well-mean 
ing and learned but bigoted zealot for orthodoxy, to 
Constantinople, as a tool of his hierarchical plans (402) ; 
but Epiphanius soon returned and died on the ship (403). 
Theopliilus now travelled himself to Constantinople, 
accompanied by a body-guard of rough sailors arid pro 
vided witli splendid presents. He appeared at once as 
accuser and judge, aided by Eudoxia and the disaffected 
clergy. He held a secret council of thirty-six bishops, 
all of them Egyptians, except seven, in a suburb of 
Chalcedon on the Asiatic side of the Bosphorus, and 
procured in this so-called synod at the Oak, the deposi 
tion and banishment of Chrysostom, on false charges of 
immorality and high treason (403). Among the twenty- 
nine charges were these : that Chrysostom had called 
the saintly Epiphanius a fool and a demon, that he 
abused the clergy, that he received females without w r it- 



32 SAIXT CHRYSOSTOM. 

nesses, that lie ate sumptuously alone and bathed alone, 
that he had compared the Empress with Jezebel. 

The innocent bishop refused to appear before a packed 
synod of his enemies, and appealed to a general council. 
As the sentence of banishment for life became known, 
the indignation of the people was immense. A single 
word from him would have raised an insurrection ; but 
he surrendered himself freely to the imperial officers, 
who conveyed him in the dark to the harbor and put 
him on board a ship destined for Hieron at the mouth of 
the Pontus. Theophilus entered the city in triumph 
and took vengeance on Chrysostom s friends. 

The people besieged the palace and demanded the res 
toration of their bishop. Constantinople was almost in 
a state of insurrection. The following night the city 
was convulsed by an earthquake, which was felt with 
peculiar violence in the bedroom of Eudoxia and fright 
ened her into submission. She implored the Emperor to 
avert the wrath of God by recalling Chrysostom. Mes 
sengers were despatched with abject apologies to bring 
him back. A whole fleet of barks put forth to greet 
him, the Bosphorus blazed with torches and resounded 
with songs of rejoicing. On passing the gates he was 
borne aloft by the people to the church, seated in the 
episcopal chair and forced to make an address. His 
triumph was complete, but of short duration. The 
ophilus felt unsafe in Constantinople and abruptly sailed 
in the night for Alexandria. 

The feelings with which Chrysostom went into his 
first and second exile, he well describes in a letter to 
Bishop Cyriacus : " When I was driven from the city, 
1 felt no anxiety, but said to myself : If the Empress 
wishes to banish me, let her do so ; the earth is the 
Lord s. If she wants to have me sawn asunder, I have 



CHRYSOSTCni AND EUDOXIA. 33 

Isaiah for an example. If she wants me to be drowned 
in the ocean, I think of Jonah. If I am to be thrown 
into the fire, the three men in the furnace suffered the 
same. If cast before wild beasts, I remember Daniel in 
the lion s den. If she wants me to be stoned, I have 
before me Stephen, the first martyr. If she demands 
my head, let her do so ; John the Baptist shines before 
me. Naked I came from my mother s womb, naked 
shall I leave this world. Paul reminds me, If I still 
pleased men, I would not be the servant of Christ. ; 



CHAPTER VIII. 

CHRYSOSTOM AND EUDOXIA. HIS SECOND BANISHMENT, 
A.I). 403. 

THE restored patriarch and the repentant Empress 
seemed reconciled, and vied with one another in extrava 
gant and hypocritical laudations for two months, when 
the feud broke out afresh and ended in Chrysostom s 
perpetual exile and death. 

Eudoxia was a beautiful, imperious, intriguing and 
revengeful woman, who despised her husband and in 
dulged her passions. Not content with the virtual rule 
of the Roman Empire, she aspired to semi-divine honors, 
such as used to be paid to the heathen Caesars. A column 
of porphyry with her silver statue for public adoration 
was erected in September, 403, on the forum before the 
church of St. Sophia, and dedicated amid boisterous and 
licentious revelry, which disturbed the sacred services. 

Chrysostom ascended the pulpit on the commemora 
tion day of the martyrdom of John the Baptist, and 



34 SAINT CHRYSOSTOM. 

thundered his righteous indignation against all who 
shared in these profane amusements, the people, the 
prefect, and the haughty woman on the throne. In the 
heat of his zeal the imprudent words are said to have 
escaped his lips : " Again Herodias is raging, again she 
is dancing, again she demands the head of John on a 
platter." Tiie comparison of Eudoxia with Herodias, 
and of himself (John) with John the Baptist was offen 
sively personal, like his former allusion to the relation 
of Jezebel and Elijah. Whether he really spoke these 
or similar words is at least doubtful, but they were re 
ported to Eudoxia, who as a woman and an empress 
could never forgive such an insult. She demanded 
from the Emperor signal redress. In the conflict of im 
perial and episcopal authority the former achieved a 
physical and temporary, the latter a moral and enduring 
victory. 

The enemies of Chrysostom flocked like vultures down 
to their prey. Theopliilus directed the plot from a safe 
distance. Arcadius was persuaded to issue an order for 
the removal of Chrysostom. He continued to preach 
and refused to leave the church over which God had 
placed him, but he had to yield to armed force. He was 
dragged by imperial guards from the cathedral on the 
vigil of the resurrection in 404, while the sacrament of 
baptism was being administered to hundreds of catechu 
mens. " The waters of regeneration," says Palladius, 
"were stained with blood." The female candidates, 
half-dressed, were driven by licentious soldiers into the 
dark streets. The eucharistic elements were profaned 
by pagan hands. The clergy in their priestly robes were 
ejected and chased through the city. The horro-s of 
that night were long afterward remembered with a shud 
der. During the greater part of the Easter week the 



CHRYSOSTOM IN EXILE, AND HIS DEATH. 33 

city was kept in a state of consternation. Private dwell 
ings were invaded, and suspected Joannit.es the parti 
sans of Chrysostorn thrown into prison, scourged, and 
tortured. Chrysostorn, who was shut up in his episcopal 
palace, twice narrowly escaped assassination. 

At last on June 5, 404, the timid and long-hesitating 
Arcadius signed the edict of banishment. Chrysostom 
received it with calm submission, and after a final prayer 
in the cathedral witli some of his faithful bishops, and a 
tender farewell to his beloved Olympias and her attend 
ant deaconesses, he surrendered himself to the guards 
and was conveyed at night to the Asiatic shore. He had 
scarcely left the city, when the cathedral was consumed 
by fire. The charge of incendiarism was raised against 
his friends, but neither threats, nor torture and mutila 
tion could elicit a confession of guilt. He refused to 
acknowledge Arsacius and Atticus as his successors ; and 
this was made a crime punishable witli degradation, fine, 
and imprisonment. The clergy who continued faithful 
to him were deposed and banished. Pope Innocent of 
Eome was appealed to, pronounced the synod which had 
condemned Chrysostom irregular, annulled the depo 
sition, and wrote him a letter of sympathy. He urged 
upon Arcadius the convocation of a general council, but 
without effect. 



CHAPTER IX. 

CHRYSOSTOM IN EXILE, AND HIS DEATH. A.D. 404-407. 

CHRYSOSTOM was conveyed under the scorching heat of 
July and August over Galatia and Cappadocia, to the 
lonely mountain village Cucusus, on the borders of 



36 SAIXT CHRYSOSTOM. 

Cilicia and Armenia, which the wrath of Eudoxia had 
selected for his exile. The climate was inclement and 
variable, the winter severe, the place was exposed to 
Isaurian brigands. He suffered much from fever and 
headache, and was more than once brought to the brink 
of the grave. Nevertheless the bracing mountain air 
invigorated his feeble constitution, and he was hopeful 
of returning to his diocese. He was kindly treated by 
the bishop of Cucusus. He received visits, letters, and 
presents from faithful friends, and by his correspondence 
exerted a wider influence from that solitude than from 
the episcopal throne. 

His 242 extant letters are nearly all from the three 
years of his exile, and breathe a noble Christian spirit, 
in a clear, brilliant, and persuasive style. They exhibit 
his faithful care for all the interests of the Church and 
look calmly and hopefully to the glories of heaven. 
They aro addressed to Eastern and Western bishops, 
presbyters, deacons, deaconesses, monks and mission 
aries ; they describe the fatigues of his journey, give 
advice on a variety of subjects, strengthen and comfort 
his distant flock, urge the destruction of heathen temples 
in Pho3iiicia, the extirpation of heresy in Cyprus, and 
encourage the missions in Persia and Scythia. Two 
letters are addressed to the Roman bishop Innocent I., 
whose sympathy and assistance he courted. Seventeen 
letters the most important of all are addressed to 
Olympias, the deaconess, a widow of noble birth, per 
sonal beauty and high accomplishments, who devoted 
her fortune and time to the poor and the sick. She died 
between 408 and 420. To her he revealed his inner 
life, and upon her virtues he lavished extravagant 
praise, which offends modern taste as fulsome flattery. 
For her consolation he wrote a special treatise on 



CHRYSOSTOM IN EXILE, AXD HIS DEATH. 37 

the theme that " No one is really injured except by 
himself." 

The cruel Empress, stung by disappointment at the 
continued power of the banished bishop, forbade all cor 
respondence and ordered his transfer by two brutal 
guards, first to Arabissus, then to Pity us on the Caucasus, 
the most inhospitable spots in the empire. 

The journey of three months on foot was a slow mar 
tyrdom to the feeble and sickly old man. He did not 
reach his destination, but ended his pilgi image five or 
six miles from Comana in Pontus in the chapel of the 
martyr Basiliscus on September 14th, 407, in his sixtieth 
year, the tenth of his episcopate. Clothed in his white 
baptismal robes, he partook of the eucharist and com 
mended his soul to God. His last words were his accus 
tomed doxology, the motto of his Jife : " Glory be to 
God for all things, Amen." 

He was buried by the side of Basiliscus in the presence 
of monks and nuns. 

He was revered as a saint by the people. Thirty-one 
years after his death, January 27, 438, his body was trans 
lated with great pomp to Constantinople and deposited 
with the emperors and patriarchs beneath the altar of 
the church of the Holy Apostles. The young Emperor 
Theodosius II. and his sister Pulcheria met the proces 
sion at Chalcedon, kneeled down before the coffin, and 
in the name of their guilty parents implored the forgive 
ness of Heaven for the grievous injustice done to the 
greatest and saintliest man that ever graced the pulpit 
and episcopal chair of Constantinople. The Eastern 
Church of that age shrunk from the bold speculations of 
Origen, but revered the narrow orthodoxy of Epiphanius, 
and the ascetic piety of Clirysostom. 

The personal appearance of the golden-mouthed orator 



38 SAINT CHRYSOSTOM. 

was not imposing, but dignified and winning. He was 
of small stature (like David, Paul, Athanasius, Melanch- 
thon, John Wesley, Schleicrmacher). lie had an 
emaciated frame, a large, bald head, a lofty, wrinkled 
forehead, deep-set, bright, piercing eyes, pallid, hollow 
cheeks, and a short, gray beard. 



CHAPTER X. 

HIS CHARACTER. 

CHETSOSTOM was one of those rare men who combine 
greatness and goodness, genius and piety, arid continue 
to exercise by their writings and example a happy influ 
ence upon the Christian Church. He was a man for his 
time and for all times. But we must look at the spirit 
rather than the form of his piety, which bore the stamp 
of his age. 

He took Paul for his model, but had a good deal of 
the practical spirit of James, and of the fervor and love 
liness of John. The Scriptures were his daily food, and 
he again and again recommended their study to laymen 
as well as ministers. He was not an ecclesiastical states 
man, like St. Ambrose, not a profound divine like St. 
Augustin, but a pure man, a practical Christian, and a 
king of preachers. " He carried out in his own life," 
says Hase, " as far as mortal man can do it, the ideal of 
the priesthood which he once described in youthful en 
thusiasm." He considered it the duty of every Chris 
tian to promote the spiritual welfare of his fellowmen. 
"Nothing can be more chilling," he says in his twen 
tieth homily on Acts, " than the sight of a Christian. 



HIS CHARACTER. 39 

who makes no effort to save others. Neither poverty, 
nor humble station, nor bodily infirmity can exempt 
men and women from the obligation of this great duty. 
To hide our light under pretense of weakness is as great 
an insult to God as if we were to say that He could not 
make His sun to shine." 

It is very much to his praise that in an age of narrow 
orthodoxy and dogmatic intolerance lie cherished a catho 
lic and irenical spirit. He by no means disregarded the 
value of theological soundness, and was in hearty agree 
ment with the Nicene Creed, which triumphed over the 
Arians during his ministry in Antioch. But he took no 
share in the persecution of heretics, and even sheltered 
the Origenistic monks against the violence of Theophilus 
of Alexandria. He hated sin more than error, and placed 
charity above orthodoxy. 

Like all the Nicene Fathers, he was an enthusiast for 
ascetic and monastic virtue, which shows itself in seclu 
sion rather than in transformation of the world and the 
natural ordinances of God. He retained as priest and 
bishop his cloister habits of simplicity, abstemiousness 
and unworldliness. He presents the most favorable 
aspect of that mode of life, which must be regarded as a 
wholesome reaction against the hopeless corruption of 
pagan society. He thought with St. Paul that he could 
best serve the Lord in single life, and no one can deny 
that he was unreservedly devoted to the cause of religion. 

He was not a man of affairs, and knew little of the 
world. He had the harmlessness of the dove without 
the wisdom of the serpent. He knew human nature 
better than individual men. In this respect he resembles 
N"eander, his best German biographer. Besides, he was 
irritable, suspicious of his enemies, and easily deceived 
and misled by such men as Serapion. He showed these 



40 SAIXT CHRYSOSTOM". 

defects in his quarrel with the court and the aristocracy 
of Constantinople. With a little more worldly wisdom 
arid less ascetic severity he might perhaps have concili 
ated arid converted those whom he repelled by his pulpit 
fulminations. Fearless denunciation of immorality and 
vice in high places always commands admiration and re 
spect, especially in a bishop and court preacher who is 
exposed to the temptations of flattery. But it is unwise 
to introduce personalities into the pulpit and does more 
harm than good. His relation to Eudoxia reminds one 
of the attitude of John Knox to Mary Stuart. The 
contrast between the pure and holy zeal of the preacher 
and the reformer and the ambition and vanity of a 
woman on the throne is very striking and must be judged 
by higher rules than those of gallantry and courtesy. 
But after all, the conduct of Christ, the purest of the 
pure, toward Mary Magdalene and the woman taken in 
adultery is far more sublime. Mercy is better than 
justice. 

The conflict of Chrysostom with Eudoxia imparts to 
his later life the interest of a romance, and was over 
ruled for his benefit. In his exile his character shines 
even brighter than in the pulpit of Antioch and Con- 
stantinople. His character was perfected by suffering. 
The gentleness, meekness, patience, endurance and devo 
tion to his friends and to his work which he showed dur 
ing the last three years of his life, are the crowning glory 
of his career. Though he did not die a violent death, 
he deserves to be numbered among the true martyrs, 
who are ready for any sacrifice to the cause of virtue and 
piety. 



HIS WRITINGS. 41 

CHAPTER XL 

THE WRITINGS OF CHRYSOSTOM.* 

CIIRYSGSTOM was tlie most fruitful author among the 
Greek Fathers. Suidas makes the extravagant remark 
that only the omniscient God could recount, all his writ 
ings. The best have been preserved and have al 
ready been noticed in chronological order. They may 
be divided into rive classes : (1) Moral and ascetic trea 
tises, including the work on the priesthood ; (2) about 
six hundred homilies and commentaries ; (3) occasional, 
festal and panegyrical orations ; (4) letters ; (5) liturgy. 

His most important and permanently useful works are 
his homilies and commentaries, which fill eleven of the 
thirteen folio volumes of the Benedictine edition. They 
go together ; his homilies are expository, and his com 
mentaries are homiletical and practical. Continuous ex 
positions, according to chapter and verse, he wrote only 
on the first six chapters of Isaiah, and on the Epistle to 
the Galatians. All others are arranged in sermons with 
a moral application at the close. Suidas and Cassiodorus 
state that he wrote commentaries on the whole Bible. 
We have from him homilies on Genesis, the Psalms, the 
Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel of John, the Acts, the 
Pauline Epistles, including the Hebrews, which he con 
sidered Pauline. Besides, he delivered discourses on 
separate texts of Scripture, on Church festivals, eulogies 



* An English translation of his principal works was edited by 
Schaff in the first series of " A Select Library of the Nicene and Post- 
Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church," published by the Christian 
Literature Company, New York, 1889- 90, vols. ix.-xiv. 



42 SATNT CHRYSOSTOM. 

on apostles and martyrs, sermons against the pagans, 
against the Jews and Judaizing Christians, against the 
Arians, and the famous twenty-one orations on the 
Statues. 

He published some of his sermons himself, hut most 
of them were taken down by short-hand writers. Writ 
ten sermons were the exceptions in those days. The 
preacher usually was seated, the people were standing. 

Of the letters of Chrysostom we have already spoken. 

The liturgy of St. Chrysostom so-called is an abridgment 
and improvement of the liturgy of St. Basil (d. 379), 
and both are descended from the liturgy of James, 
which they superseded. They have undergone gradual 
changes. It is impossible to determine the original text, 
as no two copies precisely agree. Chrysostom frequently 
refers to different parts of the divine service customary 
in his day, but there is no evidence that he composed a full 
liturgy, nor is it probable. The liturgy which bears his 
name is still used in the orthodox Greek and Russian 
Church on all Sundays, except those during Lent, and 
on the eve of Epiphany, Easter, and Christmas, when 
the liturgy of Basil takes its place 



CHAPTER XII. 

HIS THEOLOGY AND EXEGESIS. 

CHKYSOSTOM belonged to the Antiochian school of the 
ology and exegesis, and is its soundest and most popular 
representative. It was founded by his teacher Diodor 
of Tarsus (d. 393), developed by himself and his fellow- 
student Theodore of Mopsuestia (d. 429), and followed 



HIS THEOLOGY AND EXEGESIS. 43 

bv Theodoret and the Syrian and Nestorian divines. 
Theodore was the exegete, Chrysostom the liomilist, 
Theodoret the annotator. The school was afterward 
condemned for its alleged connection with the Nestorian 
heresy ; but that connection was accidental, not neces 
sary. Chrysostom s mind was not given to dogmatizing, 
and too well balanced to run into heresy. 

The Antiochian school agreed with the Alexandrian 
school founded by Origen, in maintaining the divine in 
spiration and authority of the Scriptures, but differed 
from it in the method of interpretation, and in a sharper 
distinction between the Old and the New Testaments, 
and the divine and human elements in the same. 

To Origen belongs the great merit of having broken 
the path of biblical science and criticism, but he gave 
the widest scope to the allegorizing and mystical method 
by which the Bible may be made to say anything that is 
pious and edifying. Philo of Alexandria had used that 
method for introducing the Platonic philosophy into the 
Mosaic writings. Origen was likewise a Platonist, but 
his chief object was to remove all that was offensive in 
the literal sense. The allegorical method is imposition 
rather than exposition. Christ sanctions parabolic teach 
ing and typical, but not allegorical, interpretation. Paul 
uses it once or twice, but only incidentally, when arguing 
from the rabbinical standpoint. 

The Antiochian school seeks to explain the obvious 
grammatical and historical sense, which is rich enough 
for all purposes of instruction and edification. It takes 
out of the Word what is actually in it, instead of putting 
into it all sorts of foreign notions and fancies. 

Chrysostom recognizes allegorizing in theory, but 
seldom uses it in practice, and then more by way of 
rhetorical ornament and in deference to custom. He 



44 SAINT CHRYSOSTOM. 

was generally guided by sound common sense and prac 
tical wisdom. He was more free from arbitrary and 
fanciful interpretations tlian any other patristic com 
mentator. He pays proper attention to the connection, 
and puts himself into the psychological state and histori 
cal situation of the writer. In one word, he comes very 
near to what we now call the grammatico-historical ex 
egesis. This is the only solid and sound foundation for 
any legitimate use of the Scriptures. The sacred writers 
had one delinite object in view : they wished to convey 
one particular sense by the ordinary use of language, 
and to be clearly understood by their readers. At the 
same time the truths of revelation are so deep and so 
rich that they can be indefinitely expanded and applied 
to all circumstances and conditions. Interpretation is 
one thing, application is another thing. Chrysostom 
knew as well as any allegorist how to derive spiritual 
nourishment from the Scriptures and to make them 
" profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for 
instruction in righteousness ; that the man of God may 
be complete, thoroughly furnished unto every good 
work." As to the text of the Greek Testament, he is 
the chief witness of the Syro-Constantinopolitan recen 
sion, which was followed by the later Greek Fathers. 
He accepts the Syrian canon of the Peshito, which in 
cludes the Old Testament with the Apocrypha, but 
omits from the New Testament the Apocalypse and four 
Catholic Epistles (2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and Jude) ; 
at least in the Synopsis Veteris et novi Testamenti which 
is found in his works, these five books are wanting, but 
this does not prove that he did riot know them. 

The commentaries of Chrysostom are of unequal merit. 
We must always remember that he is not a critical but a 
homiletical and practical commentator who aimed at the 



HIS THEOLOGY AXD EXEGESIS. 45 

conversion and edification of his hearers. He makes 
frequent digressions, and neglects to explain the difficul 
ties of important texts. Grammatical remarks are rare, 
hut noteworthy on account of his familiarity with the 
Greek as his mother tongue, though by no means coming 
up to the accuracy of a modern expert in philology. In 
the Old Testament he depended altogether on the Sep- 
tuagint, being ignorant of Hebrew, and often missed the 
mark. The homilies on the Pauline Epislles are consid 
ered his best, especially those to the Corinthians, where 
he had to deal with moral and pastoral questions. The 
doctrinal topics of Homans and Galatians were less to 
his taste, arid it cannot be said that he entered into the 
depths of Paul s doctrines of sin and grace, or ascended 
the height of his conception of freedom in Christ. His 
homilies on Romans are argumentative ; his continuous 
notes on Galatians somewhat hasty and superficial. 
The eighty homilies on Matthew from his Antiochian 
period are very valuable. Thomas Aquinas declared he 
would rather possess them than be the master of all 
Paris. The eighty-eight homilies on John, also preached 
at Antioch, but to a select audience early in the morn 
ing, are more doctrinal and controversial, being directed 
against the Anomoeans (Arians). We have no commen 
taries from him on Mark and Luke, nor on the Catholic 
Epistles and the Apocalypse. The fifty-five homilies 
on the Acts, delivered at Constantinople between Easter 
and Whitsuntide, when that book was read in the public 
lessons, contain much interesting information about the 
manners and customs of the age, but are the least pol 
ished of his productions. Erasmus, who translated them 
into Latin, doubted their genuineness. His life in Con 
stantinople was too much disturbed to leave him quiet 
leisure for preparation. The homilies on the Hebrews, 



46 SAINT CHRYSOSTOM. 

likewise preached in Constantinople, were published 
after his death from notes of his friend, the presbyter 
Coristantine, and the text is in a confused state. 

The homilies of Chrysostom were a rich storehouse 
for the Greek commentators, compilers and epitomizers, 
such as Theodoret, (Ecumenius, Theophylact, and 
Eu thy mi us Zigabenus, and they are worth consulting to 
this day for their exegetical as well as their practical 
value. 

The theology of Chrysostom must be gathered chiefly 
from his commentaries. He differs from the metaphysi 
cal divines of the Nicene ago by his predominantly prac 
tical tendency, and in this respect he approaches the 
genius of the Western Church. He lived between the 
great trinitarian and christological controversies and was 
only involved incidentally in the subordinate Origenistic 
controversy, in which he showed a charitable and liberal 
spirit. He accepted the Nicene Creed, but lie died 
before the rise of the Nestorian and Eutychian heresies. 
Speculation was not his forte, and as a thinker he is 
behind Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, and John of 
Damascus. He was a rhetorician rather than a logician. 

Like all the Greek Fathers, he lai J great stress on free 
will and the co-operation of the hnmari will with divine 
grace in the work of conversion. Cassian, the founder 
of Semi-Pelagianism, was his pupil and appealed to his 
authority. Julian of Eclanum, the ablest opponent of 
Augustin, quoted Chrysostom against original sin ; 
Augustin tried from several passages to prove the re 
verse, but could only show that Clirysostom was no 
Pelagian. We may say that in tendency and spirit he 
was a catholic Semi-Pelagian or Synergist before Semi- 
Pclagianism was brought into a system. 

His anthropology forms a wholesome contrast and sup- 



HIS THEOLOGY AXD EXEGESIS. 47 

plement to the anthropology of his younger contem 
porary, the great Bishop of Hippo, the champion of the 
slavery of the human will and the sovereignty of divine 
grace. 

^ We look in vain in Chrysostom s writings for the 
Augustiriian and Calvinistic doctrines of a doable pre 
destination, total depravity, hereditary guilt, irresistible 
grace, perseverance of saints, or for the Lutheran theory 
of forensic and solifidian justification. He teaches that 
God foreordained all men to holiness and salvation, and 
that Christ died for all and is both willing and able to 
save all, but not against their will and without their free 
consent. The vessels of mercy were prepared by God 
unto glory, the vessels of wrath were not intended by 
God, but fitted by their own sin, for destruction. The 
will of man, though injured by the Fall, has still the power 
to accept or to reject the offer of salvation. It must first 
obey the divine call. " When we have begun," he 
says, in commenting on John i. 38, u when we have sent 
our will before, then God gives us abundant opportuni 
ties of salvation." God helps those who help them 
selves. " When God," he says, " sees us eagerly pre 
pare for the contest of virtue, He instantly supplies us 
with Mis assistance, lightens our labors and strengthens 
the weakness of our nature." Faith and good works 
are necessary conditions of justification and salvation, 
though Christ s merits alone are the efficient cause. He 
remarks on John vi. 44, that while no man can come to 
Christ unless drawn and taught by the Father, there is 
no excuse for those who are unwilling to be thus drawn 
and taught. Yet-, on the other hand, he fully admits 
the necessity of divine grace at the very beginning- of 
every good action. " We can do no good thing at all," 
he says, " except we are aided from above." And 



48 SAINT CHRYSOSTOM. 

in his dying hour he gave glory to God " for all 
things." 

Augustinians and Semi-Pelagians, Calvinists and 
Arminians, widely as they differ in theory about human 
freedom and divine sovereignty, meet in the common 
feeling of personal responsibility and absolute depen 
dence on God. With one voice they disclaim all merit 
of their own and give all glory to Him who is the giver 
of every good and perfect gift and works in us " both 
to will and to work, for His good pleasure" (Phil. ii. 
12). 

As to the doctrines which separate the Greek, Roman, 
and Protestant churches, Chrysostom faithfully repre 
sents the Greek Catholic Church prior to the separation 
from Rome. In addition to the oecumenical doctrines 
of the 2s"icene Creed, he expresses strong views on 
baptismal regeneration, the real presence, and the 
eucharistic sacrifice, yet without a clearly denned theory, 
which was the result of later controversies ; hence it 
would be unjust to press his devotional and rhetorical 
language into the service of transubstantiation, or con- 
substantiation, or the Roman view of the mass. 

His extravagant laudations of saints and martyrs pro 
moted that refined form of idolatry which in the Nicene 
age began to take the place of the heathen hero-worship. 
But it is all the more remarkable that he furnishes no 
support to Mariolatry, which soon after his death 
triumphed in the Greek as well as the Latin Church. 
He was far from the idea of the sinless perfection and 
immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary. He derives 
her conduct at the wedding of Cana (John ii. 3, 4) from 
undue haste and a sort of unholy ambition for the prema 
ture display of the miraculous power of her Son ; and 
in commenting on Matthew xii. 46-49, he charges her 



HIS THEOLOGY AND EXEGESIS. 49 

and the brethren of Christ with vanity and a carnal mind. 
He does not use the term theotokos (bearing God, Dei- 
para, Mother of God), which twenty years after his death 
gave rise to the Nestorian controversy, and which was 
endorsed by the third and fourth (Ecumenical Councils. 

As to the question of the papacy he considered the 
bishop of Rome as the successor of Peter, the prince of 
the apostles, and appealed to him in his exile against 
the unjust condemnation of the Council at the Oak. 
Such appeals furnished the popes a welcome opportunity 
to act as judges in the controversies of the Easter Church, 
and greatly strengthened their claims. But his epistle to 
Innocent was addressed also to the bishops of Milan and 
Aquileia, and falls far short of the language of submis 
sion to an infallible authority. He conceded to the pope 
merely a primacy of honor (it poff raffia, apwi), not a 
supremacy of jurisdiction. He calls the Bishop of 
Antioeh (Ignatius and Flavian) likewise a successor of 
Peter, who labored there according to the express testi 
mony of Paul. In commenting on Gal. i. 18, he repre 
sents Paul as equal in dignity (z<rorz/*o=) to Peter. He 
was free from jealousy of Rome, but had he lived during 
the violent controversies between the patriarch of new 
Rome and the pope of old Rome, it is not doubtful on 
which side he would have stood. 

In one important point Chrysostom approaches the 
evangelical theology of the Reformation, his devotion to 
the Holy Scriptures as the only rule of faith. " There 
is no topic (says W. P. W. Stephens, his best English 
biographer) on which he dwells more frequently and 
earnestly than on the duty of every Christian man and 
woman to study the Bible ; and what he bade others do, 
that he did pre-eminently himself." He deemed the 
reading of the Bible the best means for the promotion 



50 SAINT CHEYSOSTOM. 

of Christian life. A Christian without the knowledge 
of the Scriptures is to him a workman without tools. 
Even the sight of the Bible deters from sin, how much 
more the reading. It purifies and consecrates the soul, 
it introduces it into the holy of holies and brings it into 
direct communion with God. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

CHRYSOSTOM AS A PREACHER. 

THE crowning merit of Chrysostom is his excellency 
as a preacher. He is generally and justly regarded as 
the greatest pulpit orator of the Greek Church. Nor 
has he any superior or equal among the Latin Fathers. 
He remains to this day a model for preachers in large 
cities. 

He was trained in the school of Demosthenes and 
Libanius, and owed much of his literary culture to the 
classics. He praises " the polish of Isocrates, the gravity 
of Demosthenes, the dignity of Thucydides, and the 
sublimity of Plato." He assigns to Plato the first rank 
among the philosophers, but he places St. Paul far above 
him, and glories in the victory of the tent-maker and 
fishermen over the wisdom of the Greeks. 

He was not free from the defects of the degenerate 
rhetoric of his age, especially a flowery exuberance of 
style and fulsome extravagance in eulogy of dead martyrs 
and living men. Bat the defects are overborne by the 
virtues : the fulness of Scripture knowledge, the intense 
earnestness, the fruitfulness of illustration and applica 
tion, the variation of topics, the command of language, 



CHRYSOSTOM AS A PREACHER. 51 

the elegance and rhythmic flow of his Greek style, the 
dramatic vivacity, the quickness and ingenuity of his 
turns, and the magnetism of sympathy with his hearers. 
He knew how to draw, in the easiest manner, spiritual 
nourishment and lessons of practical wisdom from the 
Word of God, and to make it a divine voice of warning 
and comfort to every hearer. He was a faithful preacher 
of truth and righteousness and told fearlessly the whole 
duty of man. If he was too severe at times, he erred 
on virtue s side. He preached morals rather than dog 
mas, Christianity rather than theology, active, practical 
Christianity that proves itself in holy living and dying. 
He was a martyr of the pulpit, for it was chiefly his 
faithful preaching that caused his exile. The effect of 
his oratory was enhanced by the magnetism of his per 
sonality, and is weakened to the reader of a translation 
or even the Greek original. The living voice and glow 
ing manner are far more powerful than the written and 
printed letter. 

Chrysostorn attracted large audiences, and among them 
many who would rather have gone to the theatre than 
hear any ordinary preacher. He held them spell-bound 
to the close. Sometimes they manifested their admira 
tion by noisy applause, and when he rebuked them for it, 
they would applaud his eloquent rebuke. You praise, " 
he would tell them, " what I have said, and receive my 
exhortation with tumults of applause ; but show your 
approbation by obedience ; that is the only praise I 
seek." 

The great, mediaeval poet Dante assigns to Chrysostom 
a place in Paradise between Nathan the prophet and 
Anselm the theologian, because, like Nathan, he rebuked 
the sins of the court, and, like Anselm, he suffered exile 
for his conviction. The best French pulpit orators 



52 SAIXT CHRYSOSTOM. 

Bossuet, Massilon, Bourdaloue have taken him for 
their model, even in his faults, the flattery of living 
persons. Villemain praises him as the greatest orator 
who combined all the attributes of eloquence. ITase 
calls his eloquence " Asiatic, flowery, full of spirit and 
of the Holy Spirit, based on sound exegesis, and with 
steady application to life." English writers compare 
him to Jeremy Taylor. Gibbon (who confesses, how 
ever, to have read very few of his homilies) attributes 
to him " the happy art of engaging the passions in the 
service of virtue, and of exposing the folly as well as 
the turpitude of vice, almost with the truth and spirit of 
a dramatic representation." Dean Milman describes 
him as an " unrivalled master in that rapid and forcible 
application of incidental occurrences which gives such 
life and reality to eloquence. He is at times, in the 
highest sense, dramatic in manner." Stephens, in his 
excellent biography, thus characterizes his sermons : 
" A power of exposition which unfolded in lucid order, 
passage by passage, the meaning of the book in hand ; 
a rapid transition from clear exposition, or keen logical 
argument, to fervid exhortation, or pathetic appeal, or 
indignant denunciation ; the versatile ease with which 
he could lay hold of any little incident of the moment, 
such as the lighting of the lamps in the church, and use 
it to illustrate his discourse ; the mixture of plain com 
mon sense, simple boldness, and tender affection, with 
which he would strike home to the hearts and con 
sciences of his hearers all these are not only general 
characteristics of the man, but are usually to be found 
manifested more or less in the compass of each discourse. 
It is this rare union of powers which constitutes his 
superiority to almost all other Christian preachers with 
whom he might be, or has been, compared. Savonarola 



CHRYSOSTOM AS A PREACHER. 53 

had all, and more than all, his lire and vehemence, but 
nntempered by his sober, calm good sense, and wanting 
his rational method of interpretation. Chrysostom was 
eager and impetuous at times in speech as well as in 
action, but never fanatical. Jeremy Taylor combines, 
like Chrysostom, real earnestness of purpose with rheto 
rical forms of expression and florid imagery ; but, on 
the whole, his style is far more artificial, and is overlaid 
with a multifarious learning, from which Chrysostom s 
was entirely free. Wesley is almost his match in simple, 
straightforward, practical exhortation, but does not rise 
into flights of eloquence like his. The great French 
preachers, again, resemble him in his more ornate and 
declamatory vein, but they lack that simpler common- 
sense style of address which equally distinguished him." 
I conclude this sketch with the eloquent tribute of 
Archdeacon Farrar (in his recent work, Lives of the 
Fathers. 1889) : " John Chrysostom is one of the most 
splendid and interesting figures in the early history of 
the Church. Less profound a theologian than Atha- 
nasius, or Augustin, or Gregory of Jsazianzen ; less inde 
pendent a thinker than Theodore of Mopsuestia ; less 
learned than Origen or Jerome ; less practically success 
ful than Ambrose, he yet combines so many brilliant gifts 
that he stands almost supreme among the Doctores 
Jicclesice, as an orator, as an exegete, as a great moral re 
former, as a saint and confessor who, 

For the testimony of truth has borne 
Universal reproach, far worse to bear 
Than violence ; for this was all his care 
To stand approved in sight of God, though worlds 
Judged him perverse. 

" The general purity and practical wholesomeness of 
his doctrines, the loftiness of his moral standard, the in- 



54 SAINT CHRYSOSTOM. 

domitable courage of his testimony against the vices of 
all classes, the glory of his oratory, the prominent posi 
tion which he occupied in his own generation, the tragedy 
and failure of his life, surround his name with a halo as 
bright as that of any of the great ecclesiastical leaders of 
the early centuries. He was the ideal preacher to the 
great capital of the world." 



LITERATURE. 

For a list of the literature on St. Chrysostom, the reader is referred 
to Schaffs History of the Christian Church (last revision, 1889), vol. III., 
933 and 1036 sq., and his Nicene and Post-Nicene Library, First 
Series (1889), vol. IX., 3-5. 

The best edition of St. Chrysostom s Works is the Benedictine of 
BERNARD DE MONTFAUCON, Greek and Latin, Paris, 1718-38, in 13 vols. 
fol., reprinted with various improvements byGaume, Paris, 1834-39, 
and in Migne s Pairologia Grceca, 1859-63. The best critical edition 
of the Greek text of the Homilies on Matthew and the Pauline 
Epistles is by Dr. FREDERICK FIELD, Cambridge and Oxford, 1839- 
62, in 7 vols. The English edition has already been mentioned, p. 
41. 

The best biographers of St. Chrysostom are NEANDER in German 
(Der heil. Chrysostoinus, 1821, 3d ed., Berlin, 1848, 2 vols.), and W. B. 
W. STEPHENS in English (St. Chrysosiom, his Life and Times, 1872, 
3d ed., London, 1883). The present sketch is substantially the same 
as that contained in the author s Prolegomena to his edition of St. 
Chrysostom s works. 



SAINT AUGUSTIK 



SAINT AUGUSTUS 1 ". 

" Thou, O God, hast made us for Thee, and our heart is restless 
until it rests in Thee." 



INTRODUCTORY. 

THE chief, almost the only source of the life of 
St. Augustin till the time of his conversion is his auto 
biography ; his faithful friend, Possidius, added a few 
notices ; his public labors till his death are recorded in 
his numerous writings ; his influence is written on the 
pages of mediaeval and modern church history. 

Among religious autobiographies the Confessions of 
Augustin still hold the first rank. In them this remark 
able man, endowed with a lofty genius and a burning 
heart, lays open his inner life before God and the world, 
and at the same time the life of God in his own soul, 
which struggled for the mastery, and at last obtained it. 
A more honest book was never written. He conceals 
nothing, he palliates nothing. Like a faithful witness 
against himself, standing at the bar of the omniscient 
Judge, he tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing 
but the truth. Like King David, in the fifty-first 
Psalm, he openly confesses his transgressions with un 
feigned sorrow and grief, yet in the joyous conscious 
ness of forgiveness. To his sense of sin corresponds his 
sense of grace : they are the controlling ideas of his 
spiritual life arid of his system of theology. The deeper 
the descent into the hell of self-knowledge, the higher 
the ascent to the knowledge of God. 

Augustin might have kept the secret of his youthful 
aberrations ; posterity knows them only from his pen. 



58 SAINT AUGUSTIN. 

He committed no murder nor adultery, like the King of 
Israel ; he never denied his Saviour, like Peter ; he was 
no persecutor of the Church, like Paul ; his sins preceded 
his conversion and baptism, and they were compatible 
with the highest honor in heathen society. But his 
Christian experience quickened his sense of guilt, and he 
told the story for his own humiliation and for the glory 
of God s redeeming grace. 

The Confessions are a solemn soliloquy before the 
throne of the Searcher of hearts within the hearing of 
the world. They enter into the deepest recesses of re 
ligious experience, and rise to the lofty summit of theo 
logical thought. They exhibit a mind intensely pious 
and at the same time intensely speculative. His prayers 
are meditations, and his meditations are prayers ; and 
both shine and burn like Africa s tropical sun. They re 
flect, as Guizot says, a unique mixture of passion and 
gentleness, of authority and sympathy, of largeness of 
mind and logical rigor." Dr. Shedd ranks them among 
those rare autobiographies in which " the ordinary ex 
periences of human life attain to such a pitch of intensity 
and such a breadth, range, and depth as to strike the 
reader with both a sense of familiarity and a sense of 
strangeness. It is his own human thought and human 
feeling that he finds expressed ; and yet it is spoken 
with so much greater clearness, depth, and energy than 
he is himself capable of, or than is characteristic of the 
mass of men, that it seems like the experience of another 
sphere and another race of beings." * 

Even in a psychological and literary point of view the 
Confessions of Augustin rank among the most interest- 



* See the thoughtful introduction to his edition of the Confessions 
of Augustin, Andover, 1860, p. ix. 



INTRODUCTORY. 59 

ing of autobiographies, and are not inferior to Rousseau s 
Confessions and Goethe s Truth and Fiction ; while in 
religious value there is no comparison between them. 
They are equally frank, and blend the personal with the 
general human interest ; but while the French philoso 
pher and the German poet are absorbed in the analysis 
of their own self, and dwell upon it with satisfaction, the 
African father goes into the minute details of his sins 
and follies with intense abhorrence of sin, and rises 
above himself to the contemplation of divine mercy, 
which delivered him from the degrading slavery. The 
former wrote for the glory of man, the latter for the 
glory of God. Augustin lived in an age w T hen the West 
ern Roman Empire was fast approaching dissolution, and 
the Christian Church, the true City of God, was being 
built on its ruins. He was not free from the defects of 
an artificial and degenerate rhetoric ; nevertheless he 
rises not seldom to the height of passionate eloquence, 
and scatters gems of the rarest beauty. He was master 
of the antithetical power, the majesty and melody of the 
language of imperial Rome. Many of his sentences have 
passed into proverbial use, and become commonplaces in 
theological literature. 

Next to Augustin himself, his mother attracts the 
attention and excites the sympathy of the reader. She 
walks like a guardian angel from heaven through his 
book until her translation to that sphere. How pure and 
strong and enduring her devotion to him, and his devo 
tion to her ! She dried many tears of anxious mothers. 
It is impossible to read of Monnica without a profounder 
regard for woman and a feeling of gratitude for Chris 
tianity, which raised her to so high a position. 

The Confessions were written about A.D. 397, ten 
years after Augustin s conversion. The historical part 



60 SAINT AUGUSTIN 1 . 

closes with Ins conversion and with the death of his 
mother. The work contains much that can be fully 
understood only by the theologian and the student of 
history ; and the last four of the thirteen books are 
devoted to subtle speculations about the nature of mem 
ory, eternity, time, and creation, which far transcend the 
grasp of the ordinary reader. Nevertheless it was read 
with great interest and profit in the time of the writer, 
and ever since, in the original Latin and numerous trans 
lations in various languages. In all that belongs to eleva 
tion, depth, and emotion there are few books so edifying 
and inspiring and so well worthy of careful study as 
Augustin s Confessions. 

We shall endeavor to popularize the Confessions, and 
to supplement the biography from other sources, for the 
instruction and edification of the present generation. 
The life of a great genius and saint like Augustin is one 
of the best arguments for the religion he professed, and 
to which he devoted his mental and moral energies. 

St. Augustin had no other force but that of intellect 
and piety. And yet he exerted more influence than any 
pope or emperor in the history of Christianity. Africa 
relapsed into barbarism after his death, but Europe was 
educated by his spirit. He has written his name indelibly 
on every page of the Middle Ages and of the Reformation. 
He was the teacher of Anselm and Thomas Aquinas, of 
St. Bernard and Thomns a Kempis, of Wiclif and Hus, 
of Luther and Calvin, of Jansen and Pascal. He fur 
nished the programme for the papal theocracy, and aided 
in its dissolution ; he struck the key-note of scholasticism, 
and mysticism ; he instructed the Reformers in the mys 
teries of sin and grace, and led them to the abyss of 
eternal predestination. Even now, fifteen hundred years 
after his conversion, his theological opinions carry more 



INTRODUCTORY. 61 

weight in the Catholic and Evangelical Churches than 
those of any other uninspired man, and are likely to do 
so till God sends a teacher who will descend deeper and 
ascend higher than Augustin in the exploration of the 
mysteries of divine truth. 

Quite recently Dr. Adolf Harnack, who sits in Nean- 
der s chair of Church History in Berlin, has given an ad 
miring estimate of the amazing influence of the Bishop 
of Hippo.* He has also published a suggestive essay on 
the Confessions of Augustin^ in which he draws an 
ingenious parallel between him and Goethe s Faust. 
But the main points in the former repentance and con 
version are wanting in the latter. Faust became dis 
gusted with the world after enjoying its pleasures, and 
regretted the consequences of his sins, but did not repent 
of sin itself. He is carried down to hell by Hephis- 
topheles in the first part of Goethe s tragedy, but he re 
appears in heaven in the second part, without any moral 
change except that brought about by his own exertion 
and the attraction of the " ever-womanly," which is the 
symbol of divine grace. In Augustin grace is not an 
outward help merely (as with Pelagius and Goethe), but 
a regenerating and sanctifying power without which man 
can do nothing. 

* In the third volume of his Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte, Frei 
burg i. B., 1890. 

t Augustin 8 Confessionen. Em Vortrag, Giessen, 1888. 



SAIUT AUGUSTUS". 



CHAPTER I. 



AURELIUS AUGUSTINUS, the greatest and best, and the 
most influential of the Latin church-fathers, was born 
on the thirteenth of November, 354, at Tagaste, in 
Numidia, North Africa. His birthplace was near H ppo 
Regius (now Bona), where he spent his public life as 
presbyter and bishop, and where he died in the seventy- 
sixth year of his age (Aug. 28, 430). He belonged to 
the Punic race, which was of Phoenician origin, but be 
came Latinized in language, laws, and customs under 
Roman rule since the destruction of Carthage (B.C. 146), 
yet retained the Oriental temper and the sparks of the 
genius of Hannibal, the sworn enemy of Rome. These 
traits appear in the writings of Tertullian and Cyprian, 
who preceded Augustin and prepared the way for his 
theology. In Augustin we can trace the religious in 
tensity of the Semitic race, the tropical fervor of Africa, 
the Catholic grasp and comprehensiveness of Rome, and 
the germs of an evangelical revolt against its towering 
ambition and tyrannical rule. His native land has long 
since been laid waste by the barbarous Yandals (A.D. 439) 
and the Mohammedan Arabs (647), and keeps mourn 
ful silence over dreary ruins ; but his spirit marched 



64 SAINT AUGUSTUS". 

tb rough the ages, and still lives and acts as a molding 
and stimulating power in all the branches of Western 
Christendom. 

His father, Patricius, was a member of the city 
Council, and a man of kindly disposition, but irritable 
temper and dissolute habits. He remained a heathen till 
shortly before his death, but did not, as it appears, lay 
any obstruction to the Christian course of his wife. 

Monnica,* the mother of Augustin, shines among the 
most noble and pious women that adorn the grand tem 
ple of the Christian Church. She was born in the year 
331 or 332, of Christian parents, probably at Tagaste. 
She had rare gifts of mind and heart, which were de 
veloped by an excellent Christian education, and dedi 
cated to the Saviour. To the violent passion of her 
husband she opposed an angelic meekness, and when the 
outburst was over she reproached him so tenderly that 
he was always shamed. Had the rebuke been adminis 
tered sooner it would only have fed the unhallowed fire. 
His conjugal infidelity she bore with patience and for 
giving love. Her highest aim was to win him over to 
the Christian faith not so much by words as by a truly 
humble and godly conduct and the conscientious dis 
charge of her household duties. In this she was so suc 
cessful that, a year before his death, he enrolled himself 
among the catechumens arid was baptized. To her it 
was the greatest pleasure to read the Holy Scriptures 



* This is the correct spelling, according to the oldest MSS. of the 
writings of Augustin, and is followed by Pusey, in his edition of the 
Confessions, by Moule, in Smith and Wace, Diet, of Christian Biogra 
phy, IT I. 932, and also by K. Braune, in Monnika und Augustinus 
(Grimma, 1846). The usual spelling is Monica, in French Monique. 
It is derived by some from fiovo^, single; by others from /j,6vvog or 
s, Lat. monile, a necklace (monilia, jewels). 



ERROR OVERRULED FOR TRUTH. 81 

tude of the human heart. The bare thought of it must 
have deeply troubled him, but the humility that can say 
with Paul, " I am the chief of sinners, - is one of the 
most beautiful pearls in the crown of the Christian char 
acter, while spiritual pride and self -righteousness gnaw 
like worms at the root of piety. There is no church- 
father who, in regard to deep, unfeigned humility, bears 
so much resemblance, or stands so near to the great 
apostle of the Gentiles as Augustin. He manifests in 
all his writings a noble renunciation of self in the pres 
ence of the Most Holy, and his spirit goes forth in 
thankfulness to the superabounding grace which, in spite 
of his un worthiness, had drawn him up out of the 
depths of corruption and overwhelmed him with mercy. 
By his own painful experience he was also fitted to 
develop the doctrine of sin, with such rare penetration 
and subtlety, to refute the superficial theories of Pelagius, 
and thus to render an invaluable service to theology and 
the Church. Further, his theoretical aberration into 
Manichseism fitted him to overthrow this false and dan 
gerous system, and to prove, by a striking example, how 
fruitless the search after truth must be outside of the 
simple, humble faith in Christ. Thus also was St. Paul, 
by his learned Pharisaic education, better qualified than 
any other apostle for contending successfully against the 
false exegesis and legal righteousness of his Judaistic 
opponents. 



82 SAINT AUGUSTIN. 

CHAPTER VIII. 

AUGUSTIN A SCEPTIC IN ROME. 

AFTER Augustin had lost faith in Manichaiism he 
found himself in the same situation as he was ten years 
before. There was the same longing after truth, but 
linked now with a feeling of desolation, a bitter sense of 
deception, and a large measure of scepticism. lie was 
no longer at ease in Carthage. He hankered after new 
associations, new scenes, new fountains out of which to 
drink the good so ardently desired. 

This disposition of mind, in connection with a dislike 
for the rudeness of the Carthaginian students and the 
exactions of friends, made him resolve on a journey to 
Rome, where he ventured to hope for a yet more brill 
iant and profitable career as a rhetorician. Thus he 
drew nigher to the place where his inward change was to 
be decided. 

He endeavored to conceal his resolution from his 
mother, who in the mean time had joined him at Car 
thage. But she found out something about it, and 
wished either to prevent him from going, or to go with 
him. 

Augustin would listen to neither proposal, and resort 
ed to a trick to carry out Ins plan. One evening, in the 
year 383, he went down to the sea-shore, in order to 
take ship, near the place where two chapels had been 
dedicated to the memory of the great church- father and 
martyr, St. Cyprian. His mother suspected his design, 
and followed him. He pretended that he merely wished 
to visit a friend on board, and remain with him until his 
departure. As she was not satisfied with this explana- 



AUGUSTIN A SCEPTIC IN ROME. 83 

tion, and unwilling to turn back alone, he insisted on her 
spending at least that one night in the church of the 
martyr, and then he would come for her. 

While she was there in tears, praying and wrestlirrg 
with God to prevent his voyage, Augustin sailed for the 
coasts of Italy, and his deceived mother found herself 
the next morning alone on the shore of the sea. She 
had learned, however, the heavenly art of forgiving, and 
believing also, where she could not see. In quiet resig 
nation she returned to the city, arid continued to pray for 
the salvation of her son, waiting the time when the hand 
of Supreme Wisdom would solve the dark riddle. 
Though meaning well, she this time erred in her prayer, 
for the journey of Augustin was the means of his salva 
tion. The denial of the prayer was, in fact, the answer 
ing of it. Instead of the form, God granted rather the 
substance of her petition in the conversion of her son. 
" Therefore," says he" therefore hadst Thou, O God, 
regard to the aim and essence of her desires, and didst 
not do what she then prayed for, that Thou mightest do 
for me what she continually implored. " 

After a prosperous voyage across the Mediterranean 
Augustin found lodging in Rome with a Manichsean 
host, of the class of the auditors, and mingled in the so 
ciety of the elect. He was soon attacked, in the house 
of this heretic, by a disease brought on and aggravated 
by the agonies of his soul, dissatisfaction with his course 
of life, homesickness, and remorse for the heartless 
deception practised on his mother. The fever rose so 
high that signs of approaching dissolution had already 
appeared, and yet Providence had reserved him for a 
long and active life. " Thou, O God, didst permit me 
to recover from that disease, and didst make the son of 
Thy handmaid whole, first in body, that he might be- 



84 SAINT AUGUSTI Jr. 

come one on whom Thou couldst bestow a better and 
more secure restoration." 

Again restored to health, he began to counsel his com 
panions against Manichaeisrn, to which before he had so 
zealously labored to win over adherents. And yet he 
could riot lead them to the truth. His dislike to the 
Church had rather increased. The doctrine of the in 
carnation of the Son of God had become particularly of 
fensive to him, as it was to all Gnostics and Manichseans. 
He despaired of finding truth in the Church. Yet 
scepticism could not satisfy him, and so he was tossed 
wildly between two waters, that would not flow peace 
fully together. " The more earnestly and perse veringly 
I reflected on the activity, the acuteness, and the depths 
of the human soul, the more 1 was led to believe that 
truth could not be a thing inaccessible to man, and came 
thus to the conclusion that the right path to its attain 
ment had not hitherto been discovered, and that this path 
must be marked out by divine authority. But now the 
question arose what this divine authority might be, since 
among so many conflicting sects each professed to teach 
in its name. A forest full of mazes stood again before 
my eyes, in which I was to wander about, and to be 
compelled to tread, which rendered me fearful." 

In this unsettled state of mind he felt himself drawn 
toward the doctrines of the New Academy.* This sys 
tem, whose representatives were Arcesilaus and Car- 
neades, denied, in most decided opposition to Stoicism, 
the possibility of an infallible knowledge of any object ; 
it could only arrive at a subjective probability, not truth. 

* Confess. V. 10 : " Etenim suborta est eliam mihi cogilatio, pruden- 
tiores coeteris fuisse illos philosophos, quos Academicos appellant, quod 
de omnibus dubilandum esse censuerant, nee aliquid veri ab homine com- 
prehendi posse decreverant." 



AUGUSTIN IN MILAN ST. AMBROSE. 85 

But our church-father could not rest content with a 
philosophy so sceptical. It only served to give him a 
deeper sense of his emptiness, arid thus, in a negative 
manner, to pave the way for something better. A change 
in his external circumstances soon occurred which has 
tened the great crisis of his life. 

After he had been in Rome not quite a year the pre 
fect Symmachus, the eloquent advocate of declining 
heathenism, was requested to send an able teacher of 
rhetoric to Milan. The choice fell on Augustin. The 
recommendation of Manichrean patrons, and still more 
his trial-speech, obtained for him the honorable and 
lucrative post. He forsook Rome the more willingly 
because the manners of the students did not please him. 
They were accustomed to leave one teacher in the midst 
of his course, without paying their dues, and go to an 
other. 

With this removal to Milan we approach the great 
crisis in the life of Augustin, when he was freed forever 
from the fetters of Manichgeism and scepticism, and be 
came a glorious light in the Church of Jesus Christ. 



CHAPTER IX. 

ATJGUBTIN IN MILAN ST. AMBROSE. 

IN the spring of the year 384: Augustin, accompanied 
by his old friend Alypius, journeyed to Milan, the sec 
ond capital of Italy and frequent residence of the Roman 
Emperor. 

The episcopal chair at that place was then filled by one 



86 SAINT AUGUSTIN. 

of the most venerable of the Latin fathers, one who not 
only earned enduring honors in the sphere of theology, 
but also in that of sacred poetry and sacred music, and 
distinguished himself as an ecclesiastical prince by the 
energetic and wise management of his diocese and his 
bold defence of the interests of the Church, even against 
the Emperor himself. 

Ambrose was born at Treves, in the year 340, of a 
very ancient and illustrious family. His father was gov 
ernor of Gaul, one of the three great dioceses of the 
Western Roman Empire. When yet a little boy, as he 
lay sleeping in the cradle with his mouth open, a swarm 
of bees came buzzing around, and flew in and out of his 
mouth, without doing him any harm. The father, as 
tonished at the unexpected vanishing of the danger, 
cried out in a prophetic mood : ;i Truly, this child, if he 
lives, will turn out something great !" A similar story 
is told of Plato. After the early death of the prefect 
his pious widow moved to Home with her three children, 
and gave them a careful education. 

Ambrose was marked out for a brilliant worldly career 
by man, but not by God, After the completion of his 
studies he made his appearance as an attorney, and ac 
quitted himself so well by his eloquent discourses that 
Probus, the governor of Italy, appointed him his coun 
sellor. Soon after he conveyed to him the prefecture or 
viceregency of the provinces of Liguria and ^Emilia, in 
Upper Italy, with the remarkable words, afterward in 
terpreted as an involuntary prophecy : " Go, and act, 
not as judge, but as bishop." Ambrose administered 
his office with dignity, justice, and clemency, and won 
for himself universal esteem. 

The Church of Milan was then involved in a battle 
between Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ, 



AUGUSTIN IX MILAN ST. AMBROSE. 87 

and Nicene orthodoxy, wliicli maintained the essential 
equality of the Son with the Father. Augentius, an 
Arian/had succeeded in driving into exile the Catholic 
bishop Dionysius, and usurping the episcopal chair. But 
he died in the year 374. 

At the election of a new bishop bloody scenes were 
apprehended. Ambrose thought it his duty as governor 
to go into the chnrch and silence the uproar of the par 
ties. His speech to the assembled multitude was sud 
denly interrupted by the cry of a child- ; Ambrose, be 
bishop !" As swift as lightning the voice of the child 
became the voice of the people, who with one accord 
would have him and no other for their chief shepherd. 

Ambrose was confounded. He was then still in the 
class of catechumens, and hence not baptized, and had, 
moreover, so high an opinion of the dignity and respon 
sibility of the episcopal office that he deemed himself 
altogether unworthy of it and unfit for it. He resorted 
to flight, cunning, and the strangest devices to evade the 
call. But it availed nothing ; and when now also^ the 
imperial confirmation of the choice arrived, he submitted 
to the will of God, which addressed him so powerfully 
through these circumstances. After being baptized by 
an orthodox bishop, and having run through the different 
clerical stages, he received episcopal consecration on the 
eighth day. 

His friend Basil, of Csesarea, was highly rejoiced at 
the result. " We praise God," so he wrote, " that in 
all ages He chooses such as are pleasing to Him. He 
once chose a shepherd and set him up as ruler over His 
people. Moses, as he tended the goats, was tilled with 
the Spirit of God, and raised to the dignity of a prophet. 
But in our days He sent out of the royal city, the metrop 
olis of the world, a man of lofty spirit, distinguished by 



88 



SAIXT AUGUSTIX. 



noble birth and the splendor of riches and by an elo 
quence, at which the world wonders ; one who renounces 
all these earthly glories, and esteems them but loss that he 
may win Christ, and accepts, on behalf of the Church, 
the helm of a great ship made famous by his faith. So 
be of good cheer, O man of God !" 

From this time forward until the day of his death, 
which occurred on Good Friday of the year 397, Am- 
e brose acted the part of a genuine bishop : he was the 
shepherd of the congregation, the defender of the op 
pressed, the watchman of the Church, the teacher of the 
people, the adviser and reprover of kings. He began by 
distributing his lands, his gold, and his silver among the 
poor. His life was exceedingly severe and simple. He 
took no dinner, except on Saturdays, Sundays, and the 
festivals of celebrated martyrs. Invitations to banquets 
he declined, except when his office required his presence, 
and then he set an example of temperance. The day 
was devoted to the duties of his calling, the most of the 
night to prayer, meditation on divine things, the study 
of the Bible and the Greek fathers, and the writing of 
theological works. He preached every Sunday, and in 
cases of necessity during the week, sometimes twice a 
day. To his catechumens he attended with especial care, 
but exerted an influence on a wider circle by means of 
his writings, in which old Roman vigor, dignity, and 
sententiousness were united with a deep and ardent prac 
tical Christianity. He was easy of access to all to the 
lowest as well as the highest. His revenues were given 
to the needy, whom he called, on this account, his stew 
ards and treasurers. With dauntless heart he battled 
against the Arian heresy, and, as the Athanasius of the 
West, helped Nicene orthodoxy to its triumph in Upper 
Italy. 



AUGUSTIX IX MILAN ST. AMBROSE. 89 

Such was Ambrose. If any one was fitted for win 
ning over to the Church the highly-gifted stranger who 
came into his neighborhood, it was he. Augustin 
visited the bishop, not as a Christian, but as a celebrated 
and eminent man. He was received by him with pater 
nal kindness, and at once felt himself drawn toward him 
in love. " Unconsciously was I led to him, my God, by 
Thee, in order to be consciously led by him to Thee." 
He also frequently attended his preaching, not that he 
might be converted by him, and obtain food for his soul, 
but that he might listen to a beautiful and eloquent ser 
mon. The personal character and renown of Ambrose 
attracted him. The influence of curiosity was predomi 
nant ; and yet it could not but happen that the contents 
of the discourses also should soon make an impression 
on him, even against his will. 

" 1 began to love him," says he, " not, indeed, at first 
as a teacher of the truth, which I despaired of finding in 
Thy Church, but as a man worthy of my love. I often 
listened to his public discourses, I confess, not with a 
pure motive, but only to prove if his eloquence was equal 
to his fame. I weighed his words carefully, while I had 
no interest in their meaning, or despised it. I was de 
lighted with the grace of his language, which was more 
learned, more full of intrinsic value, but in delivery less 
brilliant and flattering, than that of Faustus, the Mani- 
chsean. In regard to the contents, there was no com 
parison between them ; for while the latter conducted 
into Manichsean errors, the former taught salvation in 
the surest way. From sinners, like I was then, salvation 
is indeed far off ; yet was I gradually and unconsciously 
drawing near to it. For although it was not my wish to 
learn what he said, but only to hear how he said it (this 
vain interest was left rne, who despaired of the truth), 



00 SAINT AUGUSTIN. 

still, along with the words, which 1 loved, there stole 
also into my spirit the substance, which I had no care 
for, because I could not separate the two. And while I 
opened my heart to receive the eloquence which he ut 
tered, the truth also which he spake found entrance, 
though by slow degrees."* 

By this preaching the Old Testament was filled with 
new light to Augustin. lie had imbibed a prejudice 
against it from the Manichseans. He regarded it as little 
else than a letter that kills. Ambrose unfolded its life- 
giving spirit by mean s of allegorical interpretation, which 
was then in vogue among the Fathers, especially those 
of the Alexandrian school. Its aim was, above all, to 
spiritualize the historical parts of the Bib<e, and to reso ve 
the external husk into universal ideas. Thus gross vio 
lence was often done to the text, and things were dragged 
into the Bible, which, to an unbiassed mind, were not 
contained there, at least not in the exact place indicated. 
And yet this mode of interpretation was born of the spirit 
of faith and reverence, which bowed to the Word of God 
as to a source of the most profound truths, and, so far, 
was instructive and edifying. To Augustin, who himself 
used it freely in his writings, often to capriciousness, al 
though he afterward inclined rather to a cautious, gram 
matical, and historical apprehension of the Scripture, it 
was then very acceptable, and had the good effect of 
weaning him still further from Manichseism. He soon 
threw it aside altogether. But even the Platonic phil 
osophers, whom he preferred to it, he would not blindly 
trust, because "the saving name of Christ was wanting in 
them," from which, according to that ineffaceable im 
pression of his pious childhood, he could never separate 
the knowledge of the truth. 

* Confess. V. 13, 14. 



AUGUSTIN A CATECHUMEN IX THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. 91 

CHAPTER X. 

AUGUSTIN A CATECHUMEN IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. 



would suppose that lie was now ready to cast hi in- 
self into the arms of the Church, which approached him 
by a representative so worthy and so highly gifted. But 
he had not yet come so far. Various difficulties stood in 
the way. To think of God as a purely spiritual sub 
stance gave him peculiar trouble. In this he was yet 
under the influence of Manichaeism, which clothed the 
spiritual idea of God in the garb of sense. 

Nevertheless, he took a considerable step in advance. 
He enrolled himself in the class of the catechumens, to 
which he had already belonged when a boy, and resolved 
to remain there until he could arrive at a decision in his 
own soul.* He says of his condition at this time, that 
he had come so far already that any capable teacher 
would have found in him a most devoted and teachable 
scholar. 

Thus did Augustin resign himself to the maternal care 
of the communion in which he had received his early, 
never-forgotten religious impressions. It could not hap 
pen otherwise than, after an honest search, he should at 
last discover in her the supernatural glory, which, to the 
offence of the carnal understanding, was concealed under 
the form of a servant. A man possessed of his ardent 
longing after God, his tormenting thirst for truth and 
peace of mind, could obtain rest only in the asylum 



* Confess. V. 14 : " Siatui ergo lamdiu esse calechumenus in caiholica 
eccksia, mihi a pareniibus commendata, donee aliquid cerii eluceret, quo 
cur sum diriyerem." 



92. SAINT Al GUSTIN". 

founded by God Himself, and see there all his desires 
fulfilled beyond his highest hopes. 

The Church had then emerged from the bloody field 
of those witnesses who had joyfully offered up their lives 
to show their gratitude and fidelity to the Lord who had 
died for them. Their heroic courage, which overcame 
the world ; their love, which was stronger than death ; 
their patience, which endured cruel tortures without a 
murmur, as lambs led to the slaughter ; and their hope, 
which burst out in songs of triumph at the stake and on 
the cross, were yet fresh in her memory. Everywhere 
altars and chapels were erected to perpetuate their vir 
tues. From a feeling of thankfulness for the victory, so 
dearly purchased by their death, and in the consciousness 
of an uninterrupted communion with the glorified war 
riors, their heavenly birthdays were celebrated.* While 
heathenism, in the pride of its power, its literature, and 
its art, was falling into decay, the youthful Church, sure 
of her promise of eternal duration, pressed triumphantly 
forward into a new era^ to take possession of the wild 
hordes of the invading nations who destroyed the Roman 
Empire, and communicate to them, along with faith in 
the Redeemer, civilization, morality, and the higher 
blessings of life. The most noble and profound spirits 
sought refuge in her communion, in which alone they 
could find rest for their souls and quench their thirst 
after truth. She fearlessly withstood the princes and 
potentates of earth, and reminded them of righteousness 
and judgment. In that stormy and despotic period she 
afforded shelter to the oppressed, was a kind and loving 
mother to the poor, the widow, and the orphan, and 
opened her treasures to all who needed help. They who 



* So were the days of their death called. 



AUGUSTIN A CATECHUMEN IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. 03 

were weary of life found in the peaceful cells of her 
monasteries, in communion with pilgrims of like spirit, 
an undisturbed retreat, where they could give themselves 
wholly up to meditation on divine things. Thus she 
cared for all classes, and brought consolation and comfort 
into every sphere of life. She zealously persevered in 
preaching and exhorting, in the education of youth for a 
better world, in prayer and in intercession for the bit 
terest enemies, and in ascriptions of glory to the Holy 
Trinity. 

Her devotion concentrated itself on the festivals, 
recurring yearly in honor of the great facts of the Gos 
pel, especially on Easter and Whitsuntide, when multi 
tudes of catechumens, of both sexes and all ages, clad in 
white garments, the symbol of purity, were received into 
the ranks of Christ s warriors, amid fervent prayers and 
animating hymns of praise. The prince bowed with the 
peasant in baptism before the common Lord ; the famous 
scholar sat like a child among the catechumens ; and 
blooming virgins, " those lilies of Christ," as Ambrose 
calls them, made their vow before the altar to renounce 
the world and live for the heavenly bridegroom. The 
activity of Ambrose was in this respect attended by the 
richest results. He would frequently, on the solemn 
night before Easter, have as many incorporated into the 
communion of the Church by baptism as five other bish 
ops together. 

The Church of that time was still an undivided unity, 
without excluding, however, great diversity of gifts and 
powers. And this enabled her to overcome so victo 
riously heresies, schisms, persecutions, and the collected 
might of heathenism itself. One body and one spirit, 
one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father 
of all this declaration of the apostle was more applicable 



94 SAINT AUGL STIN. 

to the first centuries of the Church than to later periods. 
The dweller on the Rhine found on the borders of the 
African desert, and the Syrian on the shores of the 
Rhone, the same confession of faith, the same sanctify 
ing power, and the same ritual of worship. The Chris 
tian of the fourth century felt himself in living commun 
ion with all the mighty dead, who had long before de 
parted in the service of the same Lord. That age had no 
idea of an interruption in the history of God s kingdom, 
a sinking away of the life-stream of Christ. From the 
heart of God and His Son it has rolled down, from the 
days of the apostles, through the veins of the Church 
Catholic, amid certain infallible signs, in one unbroken 
current to the present, in order gradually to fertilize the 
whole round of earth, and empty itself into the ocean of 
eternity. 

And yet we have just as little reason to think the 
Church at that time free from faults and imperfections 
as at any other period. Some dream, indeed, of a 
golden age of spotless purity. But such an age has 
never been, and will only first appear after the general 
resurrection. Even the Apostolic Church was, in regard 
to its membership, by no means absolutely pure and 
holy ; for we need only read attentively and with un 
biassed mind any Epistle of the New Testament or the 
letters to the seven churches in the Apocalypse, in order 
to be convinced that they collectively reproved the con 
gregations to which they were sent, for various faults, 
excrescences, and perversions, and warned them of 
manifold errors, dangers, and temptations. When, 
moreover, through the conversion of Constantine, the 
great mass of the heathen world crowded into the 
Church, they dragged along with them also a vast 
amount of corruption. A very sad and dreary picture 



AUGUSTIN A CATECHUMEN IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. 95 

of the Christianity of the Nicene period can be drawn 
from the writings of the fathers of the fourth century 
(Gregory Nazianzen, for example), so that the modern 
Church in comparison appears in many respects like a 
great improvement. The march of Christianity is 
steadily onward. 

In spite of all these defects there were yet remedies 
and salt enough to preserve the body from decay. The 
militant Church, in her continuous conflict with a sinful 
world, must ever authenticate and develop the power of 
genuine sanctity, and this she did during the Kicene 
period. We cannot mistake the agency of the Holy 
Spirit, who, amid the stormy and passionate battles with 
Arianism and semi-Arianism, at last helped the Nicene 
faith to victory. And we cannot refuse genuine admira 
tion to those great heroes of the fourth century, an 
Athanasius, a Basil, a Gregory of Nyssa, a Gregory of 
Nazianzum, a Chrysostom, an Ambrose, a Jerome, who 
were distinguished as much by earnestness and dignity of 
character and depth and vigor of piety as by their emi 
nent learning and culture, and who are, even to this day, 
gratefully honored by the Greek, the Roman, and the 
Protestant communions as true church-fathers. Not 
withstanding all the corruption in her bosom, the Cath 
olic Church of that age was still immeasurably elevated 
above heathenism, sinking into hopeless ruin, and the 
conceited and arrogant schools of the Gnostics and Man- 
ichseans ; for she, and she alone, was the bearer of the 
divine-human life-powers of the Christian religion, and 
the hope of the world. 



96 SAINT AUGUSTUS". 



CHAPTER XL 

ARRIVAL OF MONNICA. 

SUCH was the state of the Church when Augustin 
entered the class of catechumens and listened attentively 
to her doctrines. His good genius, Monnica, soon came 
to Milan, as one sent by God. She could no longer stay 
in Africa without her son, and embarked for Italy. 
While at sea a storm arose, which made the oldest sailors 
tremble. But she, feeling strong and secure under the 
protection of the Almighty, encouraged them all, and 
confidently predicted a happy termination to the voyage ; 
for God had promised it to her in a vision. In Milan 
she found her son delivered from the snares of Manichse- 
ism, but not yet a believing professor. She was highly 
rejoiced, and accepted the partial answer of her tearful 
prayers as a pledge of their speedy and complete fulfil 
ment. " My son," said she, with strong assurance, " I 
believe in Christ, that before I depart this life I shall see 
thee become a believing, Catholic Christian." * 

She found favor with Ambrose, who often spoke of 
her with great respect, and thought the son happy who 
had such a mother. She regularly attended his minis 
trations, and willingly gave up certain usages, which, 
though observed by her at home, were not in vogue at 
Milan, such as fasting on Saturdays and love-feasts at the 
graves of the martyrs. With renewed fervor and confi- 



* Confess. VI. 1: " Platidissime etpec ore plenofiducice respondit mihi, 
credere se in Christo, quod priusquam de hac vita emigraret me visura 
esset fidelern catholicum. 



ERROR OVERRULED FOR TRUTH. 81 

tude of the human heart. The bare thought of it must 
have deeply troubled him, but the humility that can say 
with Paul, " I am the chief of sinners," is one of the 
most beautiful pearls in the crown of the Christian char 
acter, while spiritual pride and self-righteousness gnaw 
like worms at the root of piety. There is no church- 
father who, in regard to deep, unfeigned humility, bears 
so much resemblance, or stands so near to the great 
apostle of the Gentiles as Augustin. He manifests in 
all his writings a noble renunciation of self in the pres 
ence of the Most Holy, and his spirit goes forth in 
thankfulness to the superabounding grace which, in spite 
of his unworthiness, had drawn him up out of the 
depths of corruption and overwhelmed him with mercy. 
By his own painful experience he was also fitted to 
develop the doctrine of sin, with such rare penetration 
and subtlety, to refute the superficial theories of Pelagius, 
and thus to render an invaluable service to theology and 
the Church. Further, his theoretical aberration into 
Manichseism fitted him to overthrow this false and dan 
gerous system, and to prove, by a striking example, how 
fruitless the search after truth must be outside of the 
simple, humble faith in Christ. Thus also was St. Paul, 
by his learned Pharisaic education, better qualified than 
any other apostle for contending successfully against the 
false exegesis and legal righteousness of his Judaistic 
opponents. 



82 SAINT AUGUSTIIT. 

CHAPTER VIII. 

AUGUSTIN" A SCEPTIC IN ROME. 

AFTER Augustin had lost faith in Manichgeism he 
found himself in the same situation as he was ten years 
hefore. There was the same longing after truth, but 
linked now with a feeling of desolation, a bitter sense of 
deception, and a large measure of scepticism. He was 
no longer at ease in Carthage. He hankered after new 
associations, new scenes, new fountains out of which to 
drink the good so ardently desired. 

This disposition of mind, in connection with a dislike 
for the rudeness of the Carthaginian students and the 
exactions of friends, made him resolve on a journey to 
Rome, where he ventured to hope for a yet more brill 
iant and profitable career as a rhetorician. Thus he 
drew nigher to the place where his inward change was to 
be decided. 

He endeavored to conceal his resolution from his 
mother, who in the mean time had joined him at Car 
thage. But she found out something about it, and 
wished either to prevent him from going, or to go with 
him. 

Augustin would listen to neither proposal, and resort 
ed to a trick to carry out his plan. One evening, in the 
year 383, he went down to the sea.-shore, in order to 
take ship, near the place where two chapels had been 
dedicated to the memory of the great church- father and 
martyr, St. Cyprian. His mother suspected his design, 
and followed him. He pretended that he merely wished 
to visit a friend on board, and remain with him until his 
departure. As she was not satisfied with this explana- 



AUGUSTIN A SCEPTIC IN ROME. 83 

tion, and unwilling to turn back alone, he insisted on her 
spending at least that one night in the church of the 
martyr, and then he would come for her. 

While she was there in tears, praying and wrestling 
with God to prevent his voyage, Augustin sailed for the 
coasts of Italy, and his deceived mother found herself 
the next morning alone on the shore of the sea. She 
had learned, however, the heavenly art of forgiving, and 
believing also, where she could not see. In quiet resig 
nation she returned to the city, arid continued to pray for 
the salvation of her son, waiting the time when the hand 
of Supreme Wisdom would solve the dark riddle. 
Though meaning well, she this time erred in her prayer, 
for the journey of Augustin was the means of his salva 
tion. The denial of the prayer was, in fact, the answer 
ing of it. Instead of the form, God granted rather the 
substance of her petition in the conversion of her son. 
" Therefore," says he " therefore hadst Thou, O God, 
regard to the aim and essence of her desires, and didst 
not do what she then prayed for, that Thou mightesfc do 
for me what she continually implored." 

After a prosperous voyage across the Mediterranean 
Augustin found lodging in Rome with a Manichsean 
host, of the class of the auditors, and mingled in the so 
ciety of the elect. He was soon attacked, in the house 
of this heretic, by a disease brought on and aggravated 
by the agonies of his soul, dissatisfaction with his course 
of life, homesickness, and remorse for the heartless 
deception practised on his mother. The fever rose so 
high that signs of approaching dissolution had already 
appeared, and yet Providence had reserved him for a 
long and active life. " Thou, O God, didst permit me 
to recover from that disease, and didst make the son of 
Thy handmaid whole, first in body, that he might be- 



84 SAINT AUGUSTIN". 

come one on whom Thou couldst bestow a better and 
more secure restoration." 

Again restored to health, he began to counsel his com 
panions against Manichaeism, to which before lie had so 
zealously labored to win over adherents. And yet he 
could riot lead them to the truth. His dislike to the 
Church had rather increased. The doctrine of the in 
carnation of the Son of God had become particularly of 
fensive to him, as it was to all Gnostics and Manichseans. 
He despaired of finding truth in the Church. Yet 
scepticism could not satisfy him, and so he was tossed 
wildly between two waters, that would not flow peace 
fully together. " The more earnestly and perse veringly 
I reflected on the activity, the acuteness, and the depths 
of the human soul, the more 1 was led to believe that 
truth could not be a thing inaccessible to man, and came 
thus to the conclusion that the right path to its attain 
ment had not hitherto been discovered, and that this path 
must be marked out by divine authority. But now the 
question arose what this divine authority might be, since 
among so many conflicting sects each professed to teach 
in its name. A forest full of mazes stood again before 
my eyes, in which I was to wander about, and to be 
compelled to tread, which rendered me fearful." 

In this unsettled state of mind he felt himself drawn 
toward the doctrines of the New Academy.* This sys 
tem, whose representatives were Arcesilaus and Car- 
neades, denied, in most decided opposition to Stoicism, 
the possibility of an infallible knowledge of any object ; 
it could only arrive at a subjective probability, not truth. 

* Confess. V. 10 : " Etenim suborta est eliam mihi cogitatio, pruden- 
tiores cceteris fuisse illos philosophos, quos Academicos appellant, quod 
de omnibus dubitandum esse censuerant, nee aliquid veri ab homine com- 
prehendi posse decreverant." 



AUGUSTIN IK MILAN ST. AMBROSE. 85 

But our church-father could riot rest v content with a 
philosophy so sceptical. It only served to give him a 
deeper sense of his emptiness, and thus, in a negative 
manner, to pave the way for something better. A change 
in his external circumstances soon occurred which has 
tened the great crisis of his life. 

After he had been in Eome not quite a year the pre 
fect Symmachus, the eloquent advocate of declining 
heathenism, was requested to send an able teacher of 
rhetoric to Milan. The choice fell on Augustin. The 
recommendation of Manichaean patrons, and still more 
his trial-speech, obtained for him the honorable and 
lucrative post. He forsook Eome the more willingly 
because the manners of the students did not please him. 
They were accustomed to leave one teacher in the midst 
of his course, without paying their dues, and go to an 
other. 

"With this removal to Milan we approach the great 
crisis in the life of Augustin, when he was freed forever 
from the fetters of Manichseism and scepticism, and be 
came a glorious light in the Church of Jesus Christ. 



CHAPTER IX. 

AUGUSTIN IN MILAN ST. AMBEOSE. 

IN the spring of the year 384: Augustin, accompanied 
by his old friend Alypius, journeyed to Milan, the sec 
ond capital of Italy and frequent residence of the Roman 
Emperor. 

The episcopal chair at that place was then filled by one 



8C SAINT AUGUSTIN. 

of the most venerable of the Latin fathers, one who not 
only earned enduring honors in the sphere of theology, 
but also in that of sacred poetry and sacred music, and 
distinguished himself as an ecclesiastical prince by the 
energetic and wise management of his diocese and his 
bold defence of the interests of the Church, even against 
the Emperor himself. 

Ambrose was born at Treves, in the year 340, of a 
very ancient and illustrious family. His father was gov 
ernor of Gaul, one of the three great dioceses of the 
Western Roman Empire. When yet a little boy, as he 
lay sleeping in the cradle with his mouth open, a swarrn 
of bees came buzzing around, and flew in and out of his 
mouth, without doing him any harm. The father, as 
tonished at the unexpected vanishing of the danger, 
cried out in a prophetic mood : * Truly, this child, if he 
lives, will turn out something great !" A similar story 
is told of Plato. After the early death of the prefect 
his pious widow moved to Rome with her three children, 
and gave them a careful education. 

Ambrose was marked out for a brilliant worldly career 
by man, but not by God. After the completion of his 
studies he made his appearance as an attorney, and ac 
quitted himself so well by his eloquent discourses that 
Probus, the governor of Italy, appointed him his coun 
sellor. Soon after he conveyed to him the prefecture or 
viceregency of the provinces of Liguria and JEmilia, in 
Upper Italy, with the remarkable words, afterward in 
terpreted as an involuntary prophecy : " Go, and act, 
not as judge, but as bishop." Ambrose administered 
his office with dignity, justice, and clemency, and won 
for himself universal esteem. 

The Church of Milan was then involved in a battle 
between Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ, 



AUGUSTIN IK MILAN ST. AMBROSE. 87 

and Nicene orthodoxy, wliicli maintained the essential 
equality of the Son with the Father. Augentius, an 
Arian, had succeeded in driving into exile the Catholic 
bishop Dionysius, and usurping the episcopal chair. But 
he died in the year 374:. 

At the election of a new bishop bloody scenes were 
apprehended. Ambrose thought it his duty as governor 
to go into the church and silence the uproar of the par 
ties. His speech to the assembled multitude was sud 
denly interrupted by the cry of a child " Ambrose, be 
bishop !" As swift as lightning the voice of the child 
became the voice of the people, who with one accord 
would have him and no other for their chief shepherd. 

Ambrose was confounded. He was then still in the 
class of catechumens, and hence not baptized, and had, 
moreover, so high an opinion of the dignity and respon 
sibility of the episcopal office that he deemed himself 
altogether unworthy of it and unfit for it. He resorted 
to flight, cunning, and the strangest devices to evade the 
call. But it availed nothing ; and when now also the 
imperial confirmation of the choice arrived, he submitted 
to the will of God, which addressed him so powerfully 
through these circumstances. After being baptized by 
an orthodox bishop, and having run through the different 
clerical stages, he received episcopal consecration on the 
eighth day. 

His friend Basil, of Caesarea, was highly rejoiced at 
the result. "We praise God," so he wrote, " that in 
all ages He chooses such as are pleasing to Him. He 
once chose a shepherd and set him up as ruler over His 
people. Moses, as he tended the goats, was filled with 
the Spirit of God, and raised to the dignity of a prophet. 
But in our days He sent out of the royal city, the metrop 
olis of the world, a man of lofty spirit, distinguished by 



SAIXT AUGUSTIN. 

noble birth and the splendor of riches and by an elo 
quence, at which the world wonders ; one who renounces 
all these earthly glories, and esteems them but loss that he 
may win Christ, and accepts, on behalf of the Church, 
the helm of a great ship made famous by his faith. So 
be of good cheer, O man of God !" 

From this time forward until the day of his death, 
which occurred on Good Friday of the year 397, Am 
brose acted the part of a genuine bishop : he was the 
shepherd of the congregation, the defender of the op 
pressed, the watchman of the Church, the teacher of the 
people, the adviser and reprover of kings. He began by 
distributing his lands, his gold, and his silver among the 
poor. His life was exceedingly severe and simple. He 
took no dinner, except on Saturdays, Sundays, and the 
festivals of celebrated martyrs. Invitations to banquets 
he declined, except when his office required his presence, 
and then he set an example of temperance. The day 
was devoted to the duties of his calling, the most of the 
night to prayer, meditation on divine things, the study 
of the Bible and the Greek fathers, and the writing of 
theological works. He preached every Sunday, and in 
cases of necessity during the week, sometimes twice a 
day. To his catechumens he attended with especial care, 
but exerted an influence on a wider circle by means of 
his writings, in which old Roman vigor, dignity, and 
sententiousness were united with a deep and ardent prac 
tical Christianity. He was easy of access to all to the 
lowest as well as the highest. His revenues were given 
to the needy, whom he called, on this account, his stew 
ards and treasurers. With dauntless heart he battled 
against the Arian heresy, and, as the Athanasius of the 
West, helped Nicene orthodoxy to its triumph in Upper 
Italy. 



AUGUSTIN IN MILAN ST. AMBROSE. 8iJ 

Such was Ambrose. If any one was fitted for win 
ning over to the Church the highly -gifted stranger who 
came into his neighborhood, it was he. Augustin 
visited the bishop, not as a Christian, but as a celebrated 
and eminent man. He was received by him with pater 
nal kindness, and at once felt himself drawn toward him 
in love. " Unconsciously was I led to him, my God, by 
Thee, in order to be consciously led by him to Thee." 
He also frequently attended his preaching, not that he 
might be converted by him, and obtain food for his soul, 
but that he might listen to a beautiful and eloquent ser 
mon. The personal character and renown of Ambrose 
attracted him. The influence of curiosity was predomi 
nant ; and yet it could not but happen that the contents 
of the discourses also should soon make an impression 
on him, even against his will. 

" I began to love him," says he, " not, indeed, at first 
as a teacher of the truth, which I despaired of finding in 
Thy Church, but as a man worthy of my love. I often 
listened to his public discourses, I confess, not with a 
pure motive, but only to prove if his eloquence was equal 
to his fame. I weighed his words carefully, while I had 
no interest in their meaning, or despised it. I was de 
lighted with the grace of his language, which was more 
learned, more full of intrinsic value, but in delivery less 
brilliant and flattering, than that of Faustus, the Mani- 
chrean. In regard to the contents, there was no com 
parison between them ; for while the latter conducted 
into Manichaean errors, the former taught salvation in 
the surest way. From sinners, like I was then, salvation 
is indeed far off ; yet was I gradually and unconsciously 
drawing near to it. For although it was not my wish to 
learn what he said, but only to hear how he said it (this 
vain interest was left me, who despaired of the truth), 



90 SAINT AUGUSTUS . 

still, along witli the words, which 1 loved, there stole 
also into my spirit the substance, which I had no care 
for, because I could not separate the two. And while I 
opened my heart to receive the eloquence which he ut 
tered, the truth also which he spake found entrance, 
though by slow degrees." 

By this preaching the Old Testament was filled with 
new light to Augustin. He had imbibed a prejudice 
against it from the Manichasans. He regarded it as little 
else than a letter that kills. Ambrose unfolded its life- 
giving spirit by means of allegorical interpretation, which 
was then in vogue among the Fathers, especially those 
of the Alexandrian school. Its aim was, above all, to 
spiritualize the historical parts of the Bible, and to resolve 
the external husk into universal ideas. Thus gross vio 
lence was often done to the text, and things were dragged 
into the Bible, which, to an unbiassed mind, were not 
contained there, at least not in the exact place indicated. 
And yet this mode of interpretation was born of the spirit 
of faith and reverence, which bowed to the Word of God 
as to a source of the most profound truths, and, so far, 
was instructive and edifying. To Augustin, who himself 
used it freely in his writings, often to capriciousness, al 
though he afterward inclined rather to a cautious, gram 
matical, and historical apprehension of the Scripture, it 
was then very acceptable, and had the good effect of 
weaning him still further from Manich seisin. He soon 
threw it aside altogether. But even the Platonic phil 
osophers, whom he preferred to it, he would not blindly 
trust, because "the saving name of Christ was wanting in 
them," from which, according to that ineffaceable im 
pression of his pious childhood, he could never separate 
the knowledge of the truth. 

* Confess. V. 13, 14. 



AUGUSTIN A CATECHUMEN IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. ( J1 

CHAPTER X. 

AUGUSTIN A CATECHUMEN IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. 

WE would suppose that he was now ready to cast him 
self into the arms of the Church, which approached him 
by a representative so worthy and so highly gifted. But 
he had not yet come so far. Various difficulties stood in 
the way. To think of God as a purely spiritual sub 
stance gave him peculiar trouble. In this he was yet 
under the influence of Manichaeism, which clothed the 
spiritual idea of God in the garb of sense. 

Nevertheless, he took a considerable step in advance. 
He enrolled himself in the class of the catechumens, to 
which he had already belonged when a boy, and resolved 
to remain there until he could arrive at a decision in his 
own soul.* He says of his condition at this time, that 
he had come so far already that any capable teacher 
would have found in him a most devoted and teachable 
scholar. 

Thus did Augustin resign himself to the maternal care 
of the communion in which he had received his early, 
never-forgotten religious impressions. It could not hap 
pen otherwise than, after an honest search, he should at 
last discover in her the supernatural glory, which, to the 
offence of the carnal understanding, was concealed under 
the form of a servant. A man possessed of his ardent 
longing after God, his tormenting thirst for truth and 
peace of mind, could obtain rest only in the asylum 



* Confess. V. 14 : " Slatui ergo iamdiu esse catechumenus in catholica 
ecclesia, mild a parenlibus commendata, donee aliqitid certi duceret, quo 
cur sum dirigerem." 



92 SAINT AUGUSTIN". 

founded by God Himself, and see there all his desires 
fulfilled beyond his highest hopes. 

The Church had then emerged from the bloody field 
of those witnesses who had joyfully offered up their lives 
to show their gratitude and fidelity to the Lord who had 
died for them. Their heroic courage, which overcame 
the world ; their love, which was stronger than death ; 
their patience, which endured cruel tortures without a 
murmur, as lambs led to the slaughter ; and their hope, 
which burst out in songs of triumph at the stake and on 
the cross, were yet fresh in her memory. Everywhere 
altars and chapels were erected to perpetuate their vir 
tues. From a feeling of thankfulness for the victory, so 
dearly purchased by their death, and in the consciousness 
of an uninterrupted communion with the glorified war 
riors, their heavenly birthdays were celebrated.* While 
heathenism, in the pride of its power, its literature, and 
its art, was falling into decay, the youthful Church, sure 
of her promise of eternal duration, pressed triumphantly 
forward into a new era, to take possession of the wild 
hordes of the invading nations who destroyed the Roman 
Empire, and communicate to them, along with faith in 
the Redeemer, civilization, morality, and the higher 
blessings of life. The most noble and profound spirits 
sought refuge in her communion, in which alone they 
could find rest for their souls and quench their thirst 
after truth. She fearlessly withstood the princes and 
potentates of earth, and reminded them of righteousness 
and judgment. In that stormy and despotic period she 
afforded shelter to the oppressed, was a kind and loving 
mother to the poor, the widow, and the orphan, and 
opened her treasures to all who needed help. They who 



So were the days of their death called. 



AUGUSTIN" A CATECHUMEN IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. 93 

were weary of life found in the peaceful cells of her 
monasteries, in communion with pilgrims of like spirit, 
an undisturbed retreat, where they could give themselves 
wholly up to meditation on divine things. Thus she 
cared for all classes, and brought consolation and comfort 
into every sphere of life. She zealously persevered in 
preaching and exhorting, in the education of youth for a 
better world, in prayer and in intercession for the bit 
terest enemies, and in ascriptions of glory to the Holy 
Trinity. 

Her devotion concentrated itself on the festivals, 
recurring yearly in honor of the great facts of the Gos 
pel, especially on Easter and Whitsuntide, when multi 
tudes of catechumens, of both sexes and all ages, clad in 
white garments, the symbol of purity, were received into 
the ranks of Christ s warriors, amid fervent prayers and 
animating hymns of praise. The prince bowed with the 
peasant in baptism before the common Lord ; the famous 
scholar sat like a child among the catechumens ; and 
blooming virgins, "those lilies of Christ," as Ambrose 
calls them, made their vow before the altar to renounce 
the world and live for the heavenly bridegroom. The 
activity of Ambrose was in this respect attended by the 
richest results. He would frequently, on the solemn 
night before Easter, have as many incorporated into the 
communion of the Church by baptism as five other bish 
ops together. 

The Church of that time was still an undivided unity, 
without excluding, however, great diversity of gifts and 
powers. And this enabled her to overcome so victo 
riously heresies, schisms, persecutions, and the collected 
might of heathenism itself. One body and one spirit, 
one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father 
of all this declaration of the apostle was more applicable 



94 SAINT AUGfSTIN. 

to the first centuries of the Church than to later periods. 
The dweller on the Rhine found on the borders of the 
African desert, and the Syrian on the shores of the 
Rhone, the same confession of faith, the same sanctify 
ing power, and the same ritual of worship. The Chris 
tian of the fourth century felt himself in living commun 
ion with all the mighty dead, who had long before de 
parted in the service of the same Lord. That age had no 
idea of an interruption in the history of God s kingdom, 
a sinking away of the life-stream of Christ. From the 
heart of God and His Son it has rolled down, from the 
days of the apostles, through the veins of the Church 
Catholic, amid certain infallible signs, in one unbroken 
current to the present, in order gradually to fertilize the 
whole round of earth, and empty itself into the ocean of 
eternity. 

And yet we have just as little reason to think the 
Church at that time free from faults and imperfections 
as at any other period. Some dream, indeed, of a 
golden age of spotless purity. But such an age has 
never been, and will only first appear after the general 
resurrection. Even the Apostolic Church was, in regard 
to its membership, by no means absolutely pure and 
holy ; for we need only read attentively and with un 
biassed mind any Epistle of the N&w Testament or the 
letters to the seven churches in the Apocalypse, in order 
to be convinced that they collectively reproved the con 
gregations to which they were sent, for various faults, 
excrescences, and perversions, and warned them of 
manifold errors, dangers, and temptations. When, 
moreover, through the conversion of Constantine, the 
great mass of the heathen world crowded into the 
Church, they dragged along w T ith them also a vast 
amount of corruption. A very sad and dreary picture 



AUGU8TIN A CATECHUMEN IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. 95 

of the Christianity of the Nicene period can be drawn 
from the writings of the fathers of the fourth century 
(Gregory Nazianzen, for example), so that the modern 
Church in comparison appears in many respects like a 
great improvement. Tho march of Christianity is 
steadily onward. 

In spite of all these defects there were yet remedies 
and salt enough to preserve the body from decay. The 
militant Church, in her continuous conflict with a sinful 
world, must ever authenticate and develop the power of 
genuine sanctity, and this she did during the Nicene 
period. We cannot mistake the agency of the Holy 
Spirit, who, amid the stormy and passionate battles with 
Arianism and semi-Arianism, at last helped the JMicene 
faith to victory. And we cannot refuse genuine admira 
tion to those great heroes of the fourth century, an 
Athanasius, a Basil, a Gregory of Nyssa, a Gregory of 
Nazianzum, a Chrysostom, an Ambrose, a Jerome, who 
were distinguished as" much by earnestness and dignity of 
character and depth and vigor of piety as by their emi 
nent learning and culture, and who are, even to this day, 
gratefully honored by the Greek, the Roman, and the 
Protestant communions as true o\\\\YC\\-fathers. Not 
withstanding all the corruption in her bosom, the Cath 
olic Church of that age was still immeasurably elevated 
above heathenism, sinking into hopeless ruin, and the 
conceited and arrogant schools of the Gnostics and Man- 
ichaeans ; for she, and she alone, was the bearer of the 
divine-human life-powers of the Christian religion, and 
the hope of the world. 



96 SAINT AUGUSTUS 



CHAPTEK XL 

ARRIVAL OF MONNICA. 

SUCH was the state of the Church when Augustin 
entered the class of catechumens and listened attentively 
to her doctrines. His good genius, Monnica, soon came 
to Milan, as one sent by God. She could no longer stay 
in Africa without her son, and embarked for Italy. 
While at sea a storm arose, which made the oldest sailors 
tremble. But she, feeling strong and secure under the 
protection of the Almighty, encouraged them all, and 
confidently predicted a happy termination to the voyage ; 
for God had promised it to her in a vision. In Milan 
she found her son delivered from the snares of Manichae- 
ism, but not yet a believing professor. She was highly 
rejoiced, and accepted the partial answer of her tearful 
prayers as a pledge of their speedy and complete fulfil 
ment. u My son," said she, with strong assurance, u I 
believe in Christ, that before I depart this life I shall see 
thee become a believing, Catholic Christian." * 

She found favor with Ambrose, who often spoke of 
her with great respect, and thought the son happy who 
had such a mother. She regularly attended his minis 
trations, and willingly gave up certain usages, which, 
though observed by her at home, were not in vogue at 
Milan, such as fasting on Saturdays and love-feasts at the 
graves of the martyrs. With renewed fervor and confi- 



* Confess. VI. 1: " Pladdissime el pedore pleno fiducioe respondit mihi, 
credere se in Christo, quod priusquam de hac vila emigraret me visura 
essetfidelem catholicum." 



MORAL CONFLICTS PROJECT OF MARRIAGE. 97 

dence she now prayed to God, who had already led the 
darling of her heart to the gates of the sanctuary. She 
was soon to witness the fulfilment of her desires. 



CHAPTER XII. 

MORAL CONFLICTS PROJECT OF MARRIAGE. 

AUGUSTIN continued to listen to the discourses of Am 
brose and visit him at his house, although the bishop, 
on account of pressing duties, could not enter so fully 
as he wished into hus questions and doubts. He now 
obtained a more just idea of the doctrines of the Script 
ures and the Church than the perversions of the Mani- 
chceans had afforded him. He saw " that all the knots 
of cunning misrepresentation which these modern be 
trayers of the Divine Word had tied up could be un 
loosed, and that for so many years he had been assailing, 
not the real faith of the Church, but chimeras of a fleshly 
imagination." He now first began to prize and com 
prehend the Bible in some measure, while before it had 
been to him a disagreeable volume, sealed with seven 
seals ; and such it ever is to all those who wilfully tear 
it loose from living Christianity, and drag it into the 
forum of the carnal understanding, " which perceives 
not the things of the Spirit of God," and thus factiously 
constitute themselves judges over it, instead of surrender 
ing themselves to it in humble obedience. 

Meanwhile he had many practical and theoretical strug 
gles to pass through before reaching a final decision. 
About this time, in conjunction with his friends, among 



98 SAINT AUGUSTIN. 

whom were Alypius, who had come with him to Hilary 
and Nebridius, who had lately left Africa, in order to 
live together with Augustin, u in the most ardent study of 
truth and wisdom," lie resolved to form a philosophical 
union, and, in undisturbed retirement, with a community 
of goods, to devote himself exclusively to the pursuit of 
truth. In such a self -created ideal world, which com 
mended itself to the lofty imagination of one so gifted 
and noble as Augustin was, he sought a substitute for the 
reality of Christianity and the deeper earnestness of prac 
tical life and activity. " Diverse thoughts were thus in 
our hearts, but Thy counsel, O God, abides in eternity. 
According to that counsel Thou didst laugh at ours, and 
work out Thine own, to bestow on us the Spirit at the 
set time." " While the winds were blowing from every 
quarter and tossing my heart to and fro, time went by, 
and I delayed in turning to the Lord, and put off living 
in Thee from day to day, and did not put off dying daily 
in myself. Desiring a life of blessedness, I shunned the 
place where it dwelt, and sought it by flying from it." * 
The romantic scheme fell to pieces, because the friends 
could not agree as to whether marriage ought to be wholly 
forbidden in their philosophical hermitage, as Alypius 
desired, in the fashion of the ascetic piety of that age, 
or not, as Augustin proposed. He was unable then to 
give up the love of women. " I believed I would be 
come very unhappy if I was deprived of the embraces 
of woman, and I did not consider the medicine of Thy 
grace for the healing of this weakness, for I was inex 
perienced ; for I esteemed continency an affair of natural 
ability of which I was not conscious, and was foolishly 



* Confess. VI. 11 : " Amando beatam vitam, timebam illam in sede sua, 
et ab eafugiens qucerebam earn." 



MORAL CONFLICTS PROJECT OF MARRIAGE. 99 

ignorant of what the Scripture says (Wisdom viii. 21), 
that no one can be continent unless God gives him power. 
Surely, Thou wouldst have given it to me had I prayed 
to Thee with inward groaning, and with firm faith cast 
my care upon Thee !" * 

On this account Augustin resolved to enter into formal 
wedlock, though for certain reasons the resolution was 
never carried into effect. 

His mother, who, in common with the whole Church 
of that era, regarded perfect abstinence as a higher 
grade of virtue, still, under the circumstances, eagerly 
laid hold of the plan. In the haven of marriage she 
believed him secure from debauchery, and then every 
hindrance to his baptism, which she so ardently desired, 
was also taken away. 

Both looked around for a suitable match. The choice 
was not easily made, for Augustin wished to find beauty, 
amiability, refinement, and some wealth united in one 
person. In this matter the mother, as usual, took coun 
sel of God in prayer. At last a lady was discovered an 
swerable to their wishes, who also gave her consent, but 
because of her youth the nuptials had to be postponed 
for two years longer. 

Augustin immediately discharged his mistress, whom 
he had brought with him from Carthage, and who, as 
one would think, was best entitled to the offer of his 
hand. This conduct is a serious blot on his character, 
according to our modern notions of morality. But neither 
he nor Monnica looked upon it in that light, and were 
unconscious of doing any wrong. The unhappy outcast, 
who appears to have loved him truly, and had been faith 
ful to him, as he to her, during the thirteen years of 



Confess. VI. 11. 



100 SAIXT AUGUSTIN. 

their intercourse, returned to Africa with a heavy heart, 
and vowed that she would never know any other man. 
Their natural son, Adeodatus, she left with his father. 

Just after the separation Angustin felt with bleeding 
heart the strength of his unlawful attachment. So strong 
had the power of sensuality become in him through 
habit, that neither the recollections of the departed nor 
respect for his bride could restrain him from forming a 
new immoral connection for the interval. Along with 
this carnal lust came also the seductions of ambition and 
a longing after a brilliant career in the world. He felt 
very miserable ; he must have been ashamed before his 
own better self, before God and man. " But the more 
miserable I felt, the nearer didst Thou come to me, O 
God." The Disposer of his life had His hand over all 
this. " 1 thought, and Thou wert with me ; I sighed, 
and Thou heardst me ; I was tossed about, yet Thou 
didst pilot me ; I wandered on the broad way, and still 
Thou didst not reject me." 



CHAPTER XIII. 

MENTAL CONFLICTS. 

YET more violent and painful were his theoretical con 
flicts, the tormenting doubts of his philosophic spirit. 

The question concerning the origin of evil, which once 
attracted him to the Manichseans, was again brooded 
over with renewed interest. The heresy that evil is a 
substance, and co-eternal with God, he had rejected. 
But whence then was it ? The Church found its origin 



MENTAL CONFLICTS. 101 

in the will of the creature, who was in the beginning 
good, and of his own free choice estranged himself from 
God. But here the question arose, Is not the possibility 
of evil, imprinted by God in its creation on the will, 
itself already the germ of evil ? Or could not God, as 
the Almighty, have so created the will as to render the 
fall impossible ? How can He then be a Being of perfect 
goodness ? And if we transfer the origin of evil, as the 
Church does, from the human race to Satan, through 
whose temptation Adam fell, the difficulty is not thereby 
settled, but only pushed further back. Whence, then, 
the Devil ? and if he was first transformed from a good 
angel into a devil by a wicked will, whence then that 
wicked will ? 

Here he was again met by the spectre of Gnostic and 
Manichsean dualism, but soon reverted to the idea of the 
absolute God, whom he had made the immovable ground- 
pillar of his thinking, and who naturally cannot suffer 
the admission of a second absolute existence. Perhaps 
evil is a mere shadow. But how can anything unreal 
and empty prepare such fears and torments for the con 
science ? 

He revolved such questions in his mind, and found no 
peace. " Thou, my God Thou alone knowest what I 
suffered, but no one among men." He was not able to 
communicate fully the tumult of his soul even to his most 
intimate friends. But these conflicts had the good effect 
of driving him to prayer and strengthening in him the 
conviction that mind, left to itself, can never reach a satis 
factory result. 



102 SAINT AUGUSTUS. 

CHAPTER XIV. 

INFLUENCE OF PLATONISM. 

ABOUT this time, somewhere in the beginning of the 
year 386, lie fell in with certain Platonic and New Pla 
tonic writings, translated into Latin by the rhetorician 
Victorinus, who afterward was converted to Christianity. 
No doubt he had a general acquaintance with this phi 
losophy before. But now, for the first time, he studied 
it earnestly in its original sources, to which he was intro 
duced by an admiring disciple. He himself says that it 
kindled in him an incredible ardor.* 

Platonism is beyond dispute the noblest product of 
heathen speculation, and stands in closer contact with 
Revelation than any other philosophical system of an 
tiquity. It is in some measure an unconscious prophecy 
of Christ, in whom alone its sublime ideals can ever be 
come truth and reality. The Platonic philosophy is dis 
tinguished by a lofty ideality, which raises man above the 
materialistic doings and sensual views of every-day life 
into the invisible world, to the contemplation of truth, 
beauty, and virtue. It is genuine philosophy, or love of 
wisdom, home-sickness deep longing and earnest search 
after truth. It reminds man of his original likeness to 
God, and thus gives him a glimpse of the true end of all 
his endeavor. 

Platonism also approaches Revelation in several of its 



* Contr. Academ. II. 5 : " E iam mihi ipsi de me ipso incredibile in- 
cendium in me concitarunt." Comp. my History of the Aposl. Church, 
p. 150 sqq., and my Church Hixtory, vol. II. p. 95 sqq., where the rela 
tion of Platonism to Christianity and to the Church Fathers is dis 
cussed in detail. 



INFLUENCE OF PLATONISM. 103 

doctrines, at least in the form of obscure intimation. 
We may here mention its presentiment of the unity, and, 
in a certain measure, the trinity of the Divine Being ; 
the conception that the world of ideas is alone true and 
eternal, and the world of sense its copy ; and further, 
that the human soul has fallen away from a condition of 
original purity, and merited its present suffering existence 
in the prison of the body ; but that it should have long 
ing aspirations after its home, the higher world, free 
itself from the bonds of sense, and strive after the high 
est spiritual and eternal good. 

Hence it was no wonder that Platonism to many culti 
vated heathens and some of the most prominent fathers, 
especially in the Greek Church, became a theoretical 
schoolmaster for leading to Christ, as the Law was a 
practical schoolmaster to the Jews. It delivered Au- 
gustin completely from the bondage of Manichsean dual 
ism and Academic scepticism, and turned his gaze inward 
and upward. In the height of his enthusiasm he be 
lieved that he had already discovered the hidden foun 
tain of wisdom. But he had soon to learn that not the 
abstract knowledge of the truth, but living in it, could 
alone give peace to the soul ; and that this end could only 
be reached in the way of divine revelation and practical 
experience of the heart. 

Although the Platonic philosophy contained so many 
elements allied to Christianity, there were yet two im 
portant points not found therein : first, the great mys 
tery, the Word made flesh ; arid then love, resting on 
the basis of humility.* The Platonic philosophy held 
up before him beautiful ideals, without giving him power 

* Confess. VII. 20 : " Vbl enim erat ilia caritas cedificans a fanda- 
menlo humilitatis, quod est Christus Jesus ? Aui quando illi libri [P/a- 
tonici] docerent me tarn f" 



104 SAINT AUGUSTIN. 

to attain them. If he attempted to seize them ungodly 
impulses would suddenly drag him down again into the 
mire. 



CHAPTER XY. 

STUDY OF THE SCRIPTURES. 

THUS the admonition to study the Holy Scriptures was 
addressed to him once more, and in a stronger tone than 
ever. He now gave earnest heed to it, and drew near 
the holy volume with deep reverence and a sincere de 
sire for salvation.* 

He was principally carried away with the study of the 
Epistles of St. Paul, and read them through collectively 
with the greatest care and admiration. Here he found 
all those truths which addressed him in Platonism no 
longer obscurely foreshadowed, but fulfilled ; and yet 
much more besides. Here he found Christ as the Medi 
ator between God and man, between heaven and earth, 
who alone can give us power to attain those lofty ideals 
and embody them in life. Here he read that masterly de 
lineation of the conflict between the spirit and the flesh 
(Rom. vii.), which was literally confirmed by his own ex 
perience. Here he learned to know aright the depth of 
the ruin and the utter impossibility of being delivered 
from it by any natural wisdom or natural strength, and, 
at the same time, the great remedy which God graciously 
offers to us in His beloved Son. 

Such light, such consolation, and such power the Pla- 

* Confess. VII. 21: " Itaque avidissime arripui venerabilem stilum 
Splntits tui, et prcK cceteris Apos olnm Pau um," etc. 



STUDY OF THE SCRIPTURES. 105 

tonic writings had never yielded. " On their pages," 
he says very beautifully, in the close of the seventh book 
of his Confessions, " no traces of piety like this can be 
discovered ; tears of penitence ; Thy sacrifice, the broken 
spirit ; the humble and the contrite heart ; the healing 
of the nations ; the Bride, the City of God ; the earnest 
of the Holy Spirit ; the cup of our salvation. No one 
sings there : l Truly my soul waiteth upon God ; from 
Him cometh my salvation ; He only is my rock and my 
salvation ; He is my high tower ; I shall not be greatly 
moved. (Ps. Ixii. 1, 2.) There no one hears the invi 
tation : Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy- 
laden, and I will give you rest. (Matt. xi. 28.) They 
[the Platonists] disdain to learn of Him who is meek and 
lowly in heart ; they cannot imagine why the lowly should 
teach the lowly, nor understand what is meant by His 
taking the form of a servant. For Thou hast hidden it 
from the wise and prudent, and revealed it unto babes. 
It is one thing to see afar off, from the summit of a 
woody mountain, the fatherland of peace, and without 
any path leading thither, to wander around lost and weary 
among byways, haunted by lions and dragons, that lurk 
in ambush for their prey ; and quite another to keep 
safely on a road that leads thither, guarded by the care 
of a Celestial Captain, where no robbers, who have for 
saken the heavenly army, ever lie in wait. This made 
a wonderful impression on my spirit, when 1 read the 
humblest of Thine Apostles (1 Cor. xv. 9), and consid 
ered Thy works, and saw the depths of sin." 



106 SAINT AUGUSTIN. 



CHAPTER XYI. 

AUGUSTIN S CONVERSION. 

WE now stand on the threshold of his conversion. 
Theoretically he was convinced of the truth of the doc 
trines of the Church, but practically had yet to undergo, 
in his bitter experience, the judgment of St. Paul : 
" The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit 
against the flesh." (Gal. v. 17.) No sooner did his 
soul rise into the pure ether of communion with God 
than the cords of sense drew him down again into the 
foul atmosphere of earth. " The world," said he, " lost 
its charms before Thy sweetness and before the glory of 
Thy house, which I had learned to love ; but I was yet 
bound by strong ties to a woman." " 1 had found the 
beautiful pearl ; I should have sold all I possessed to buy 
it, and yet I hesitated." 

Amid the tumult of the world he often sighed after 
solitude. Desiring counsel, and unwilling to disturb the 
indefatigable Ambrose, he betook himself to the vener 
able priest Simplicianus, who had grown gray in the ser 
vice of his Master. The priest described to him, for his 
encouragement, the conversion of his friend Victorinus, 
a learned teacher of rhetoric at Rome, and translator of 
the Platonic writings, who had passed over from the 
Platonic philosophy to a zealous study of the Scriptures, 
and cordially embraced the Saviour with a sacrifice of 
great worldly gain. For a long time he believed he 
could be a Christian without joining the Church, and 
when Simplicianus replied to him : " I will not count 
you a Christian before I see you in the Church of 
Christ," Victorinus asked with a smile : " Do the walls, 



AUGUSTUS S CONVERSION*. 107 

then, make Christians ?" " x * But afterward lie came to 
see that he who does not confess Christ openly before the 
world need not hope to be confessed by Him before His 
Heavenly Father (Matt. x. 32, 33), and therefore submit 
ted in humble faith to the washing of baptism. 

Augustin wished to do likewise, but his will was not 
yet strong enough. He compares his condition to that 
of a man drunk with sleep, who wishes to rise up, but 
now for the first time rightly feels the sweetness of slum 
ber, and sinks back again into its arms. In a still more 
warning and pressing tone the voice sounded in his ears : 
" Awake, tliou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, 
and Christ shall shine upon thee" (Eph. v. 14-) ; but he 
answered lazily : " Soon, yes, soon ! only wait a little ;" 
and the soon passed on into hours, days, and weeks. In 
vain his inward man delighted in the law of God, for 
another law in his members warred against the law of his 
mind, and brought him into captivity to the law of sin. 
(Rom. vii. 22, 23.) His disquietude rose higher and 
higher ; his longing became violent agony. Oftentimes 
he would tear his hair, smite his forehead, wring his 
hands about his knees, and cry out despairingly : " O 
wretched man that I am ! who shall deliver me out of 
the body of this death ?" (Rom. vii. 24.) 

These conflicts, in connection with the weight of his 
literary labors, had exerted such an injurious influence on 
his health that he began to think seriously of resigning 
his post as a rhetorician. 

One day, as he sat in a downcast mood with his bosom 
friend Alypius, who was involved in similar struggles, 

* C>nfess. VIII. 2 : Er<jo parietes faciunt Christianas?" This pas 
sage is sometimes torn from its connection and misused for a purpose 
directly opposite ; since Augustin quotes it to show that a man 
could not be a Christian without joining the visible Church. 



108 SAINT AUGUSTIN. 

their countryman Pontitianus, a superior officer in the 
Roman army, and at the same time a zealous Christian, 
entered the chamber. He was surprised, instead of a 
classic author or a Maniclisean writer, to see the Epistles 
of Paul lying on the table. He began a religious con 
versation, and in the course of his remarks took occasion 
to speak of the Egyptian hermit Anthony (died 356), 
who, in literal pursuance of the Saviour s advice to the 
rich young man (Matt. xix. 21), had given up a,ll his 
property in order to live to the Lord unrestricted and 
undisturbed, in solitude, and there to work out the salva 
tion of his soul. The two friends had as yet heard noth 
ing of the wonderful saint of the desert, the venerable 
father of monachism, and just as little of a cloister out 
side of the walls of Milan, under the supervision of Am 
brose, and were now charmed and ashamed at the infor 
mation. Their countryman related further how, during 
his stay at Treves, two of his friends, who were both 
engaged to be married, obtained, on a visit to a cell, the 
biography of Anthony ascribed to Athanasius, the great 
u father of orthodoxy," and on reading it fell so in love 
with the contemplative life and the higher perfection 
there portrayed, that they threw up their commissions in 
the army and took leave of the world forever. Their 
brides did likewise. 

This was a sting for the conscience of Augustin. The 
soldiers and their brides had heard the call of the Lord 
only once, and obeyed it immediately. And he ? It 
was now more than twelve years since the Hortensius of 
Cicero had stirred him up so powerfully to search after 
truth, and ever clearer and clearer the voice of the Good 
Shepherd had sounded in his ears. And yet his will rose 
up in rebellion ; he was not ready to renounce the world 
wholly, but desired to retain at least some of its pleasure?. 



AUGUSTIN S CONVERSION. 109 

Pontitianus left the house. Then the storm in the 
soul of Augustin broke loose with greater violence, and 
expressed itself in the features of his countenance, his 
looks, and his gestures still more than in his words. 
" What has happened to us ?" said he to Alypius " what 
is it ? What hast then heard ? The unlearned rise up 
and lay hold of the kingdom of heaven, and we, with 
our heartless knowledge see how we wallow in flesh and 
blood ! Shall we be ashamed to follow them because 
they have gone before, and not ashamed not to follow 
them at all*"* 

After he had said this, and more in a similar strain, he 
rushed out with the Epistles of Paul in his hand into an 
adjoining garden, where no one would be likely to inter 
rupt the agitation of his soul until God Himself should 
allay it. For it was, as he said, despair or salvation, 
death or life. Alypius followed in his footsteps. 

u We removed as far as possible from the house. 1 
groaned in spirit, full of stormy indignation that I had not 
entered into covenant and union with Thee, my God, 
and all my bones cried out ; thither must thou go ! But 
it was not possible to go by ship, or wagon, or on foot, as 
we go to any place we please. For going thither and 
coming there is nothing else than to will to go thither, 
and to will witlifull power not to waver and be tossed 
to and fro with a divided will, which now rises up and 
now sinks down in the struggle."-)- He was angry at 
the perverseness of his will : " The spirit orders the 
body, and it obeys instantly ; the spirit orders itself, and 



* Confess. VIII. 8. 

f Confess. VIII. 8 : " Nam non solum ire, verum efiam pervenire il uc, 
nihil erat aliud, quamvelle ire, sed velle fortiter et iniegre; non semisaucium 
hie atque hac versare et jactare voluntalem, parte adsurgente cum alia parte 
cadente ludantem." 



110 SAINT AUGUSTIX. 

it refuses. The spirit orders the hand to move, arid it 
does it so quickly that one can scarcely distinguish be 
tween the act and the command ; the spirit commands 
the spirit to will, and although the same, it will not do it. 
Whence this monstrosity ? It is a disease of the spirit 
that prevents it from rising up : the will is split and 
divided ; thus there are two wills in conflict with each 
other, one good and one evil, and I myself it was who 
willed and who did not will." 

Thus was he pulled hither and thither, accusing him 
self more severely than ever, and turning and rolling in 
his fetters until they should be wholly broken, by which, 
indeed, he was no longer wholly bound, but only yet. 

And when he had thus dragged up all his misery from 
its mysterious depths, and gathered it before the eye of 
his soul, a huge storm arose that discharged itself in a 
flood of tears.* 

In such a frame of mind he wished to be alone with 
liis God, and withdrew from Alypius into a retired cor 
ner of the garden. Here Augustin, he knew not how, 
threw himself down upon the earth, under a fig-tree, and 
gave free vent to his tears. " Thou, my Lord," he 
cried, with sobbing voice, "how long yet? O Lord, 
how long yet wilt Thou be angry ? Remember not the 
sins of my youth ! How long ? how long ? To-morrow, 
and again, to-morrow ? Why not to-day, why not now ? 
Why not in this hour put an end to my shame f" f 

* Confess. VIII. 12 : " Oborta est procella ingens, ferens ingentem 
imbrem lacrymarum." 

f Confess. VIII. 12 : " Et non quidem his verbis, sed in hac sententia 
multa dixi tibi : Et iu Domine, usquequo ? Usquequo, Domine, irasceris in 
finem? Ne memor fueris iniquitatum nostrarum antiquarum / Sentiebam 
enim eis me teneri. Jadabam voces miserabiles : Quamdiu f Quamdiu f 
Cras et eras? Quare non modof Quare non hac hora finis turpiiudinis 
meae? Dicebam hcec, etfiebam amarissima contritione cordis mei." 



AUGUSTUS S CONVERSION. Ill 

Thus lie prayed, supplicated, sighed, wrestled, and 
wept bitterly. They were the birth-pangs of the new 
life. From afar he saw the Church in the beauty of 
holiness. The glorified spirits of the redeemed, who 
had been snatched from the abyss by the All-merciful 
and transplanted into a heavenly state of being, beckoned 
to him. Still more powerfully the longing burned 
within him ; still more hot and rapidly beat the pulse of 
desire after the Saviour s embrace ; as a weary, hunted 
stag after the fresh water-brooks, so panted his heart 
after the living God and a draught from the chalice of 
His grace. 

The hour of deliverance had now come. The Lord 
had already stretched out His hand to tear asunder the 
last cords that bound his prodigal son to the world, and 
press him to a warm, true father s heart. 

As Augustin was thus lying in the dust and ashes of 
repentance, and agonizing with his God in prayer, he 
suddenly heard from a neighboring house, as though 
from some celestial height, the sweet voice, whether of a 
boy or a maiden he knew not, calling out again and 
again, "ToUe Icge, tolle lege !" i.e., "Take and read." 
It was a voice from God that decided his heart and life. 
" Then I repressed," so he further relates in the last 
chapter of the eighth book of his Confessions, "the 
gush of tears, and raised myself up, while I received the 
word as nothing else than a divine injunction to open the 
Scriptures and read the first chapter that would catch 
my eye. I had heard how Anthony, once accidentally 
present during the reading of the gospel in church, had 
felt himself admonished, as though what was read had 
been specially aimed at him : Go, sell that thou hast, 
and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in 
heaven ; and come, follow me (Matt. xix. 20), and that, 



112 SAINT AUGUSTIN. 

by this oracle, he had been immediately converted, my 
God, to Thee." 

He hastened to the place where he had left the Holy 
Book, and where Alypius sat ; snatched it up, opened, 
and read : ".LET us WALK HONESTLY, AS IN THE DAY ; 

NOT IN REVELLING AND DRUNKENNESS, NOT IN CHAMBERING 
AND WANTONNESS, NOT IN STRIFE AND JEALOUSY. BUT PUT 

YE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND MAKE NOT PROVISION 
FOR THE FLESH, TO FULFIL THE LUSTS THEREOF." (Rom. 
xiii. 13, 14.)* 

This passage of the Epistle to the Romans was exactly 
suited to his circumstances. It called on him to renounce 
his old, wild life, and begin a new life with Christ. He 
found still more in it, according to the ascetic spirit of 
the age, and resolved to renounce all the honors and 
pleasures of the world, even his contemplated marriage, 
in order to devote himself, without restraint, to the ser 
vice of the Lord and His Church, and, if possible, to 
attain the highest grade of moral perfection, f 

He read no further. That single word of God was 



* After the original and the Vulgate : " et carnis providentiam ne 
feceritis in concupiscenliis," which Augustin, in his present condi 
tion, understood as a challenge to renounce completely every desire 
of the flesh. Luther, on the contrary, has translated it : " Wartet 
des Leibes, dock also, dass er nicht geil werde," which gives a different 
sense. But in such a case aufia would be used in the Greek instead 
of <ydpf, and the conjunctive particle pjj would stand after and not 
before troovoiav. 

f Confess. VIII. 12: Convertisti meadte, ut nee uxorem quaererem, nee 
alijuam spem scvculi hujus," etc. Anthony, whose example had wrought 
powerfully in the conversion of Augustin, had, likewise, in literal 
accordance with the words of Christ (Matt. xix. 21), sold all that he 
had, and given it to the poor. According to the views of the ancient 
Church, which can be traced back as far as the second century, vol 
untary poverty, celibacy, and martyrdom were the way to a more 
literal following of Christ and a higher grade of holiness and bliss. 



SOJOURN IN" THE COUNTRY. 113 

sufficient to decide his whole future. The gloomy 
clouds of doubt and despondency rolled away ; the for 
giveness of his sins was sealed to him ; peace and joy 
streamed into his bosom. With his finger on the passage 
read, he shut the book, and told Alypius what had hap 
pened. The latter wished to read the words, and hit 
upon the next following verse (xiv. 1), " Him that is 
weak in the faith receive ye." He applied the warning 
to himself. 

Both hastened, in the first ardor of conversion, to 
Monnica. The faithful soul must hear the glad tidings 
before others. She cried aloud and exulted, and her 
heart overflowed with thankfulness to the Lord, who, at 
last, after long, long delay, had answered beyond her 
prayers and comprehension. 

This occurred in September of the year 386, in the 
thirty -third year of his life. Truly says Augustin : " All 
who worship Thee must, when they hear this, cry out : 
Blessed be the Lord, in heaven and on earth ; great and 
wonderful is His name !" 



CHAPTER XVII. 

SOJOURN IN THE COUNTRY. 

AUGUSTIN continued in office the few remaining weeks, 
till the autumnal holidays, and then handed in his resig 
nation as public teacher of forensic eloquence, partly on 
account of a weakness of the breast, but chiefly because 
he had firmly resolved to consecrate himself henceforth 
wholly and entirely to the pursuit of divine things. 



114 SAINT AUGUSTIN. 

Along with his mother, his son, and his brother 
gius, Alypius, and other friends, he now withdrew to 
Cassiciacum, a villa lying near Milan, which belonged to 
his friend Verecundus.* He passed six months there 
under the serene Italian sky, in view of the glorious 
Swiss Alps, devoted to quiet meditation and preparation 
for the rite of holy baptism. 

He had asked the advice of Ambrose as to what parts 
of Scripture he ought to study under his peculiar circum 
stances. The bishop recommended the Prophecies of 
Isaiah. But as Augustin could not rightly understand 
them he selected the Psalms, and found there just what 
he desired the hallowed expression of his deepest relig 
ious feelings, from the low, sad wail of penitence and 
contrition up to the inspiring song of praise to the 
Divine Mercy. Half the night he spent in their study 
and in pious meditation, and enjoyed most blessed hours 
of intimate communion with God. He now mourned 
over and pitied the Manichseans for being so blind in 
regard to the Old Testament, which they rejected. " I 
wished only," he once thought, " they could have been 
in my neighborhood without my knowing it, and could 
have seen my face and heard my voice when in that re 
tirement I read the Fourth Psalm, and how that Psalm 
wrought upon me." 

A great part of the day he devoted to the education of 
two young men from his native city. His propensity for 
speculative meditation was so strong that he resorted 
with his company, in good weather, to the shade of a 
large tree, and in bad to the halls of the baths belonging 
to the villa, and, walking up and down in the freest 



* Probably near the town Casciago in Lombardy, at the foot of a 
group of hills, from which there is a sublime view of the Monte Rosa. 



SOJOURN IN THE COUNTRY. 115 

manner, delivered discourses on those philosophical sub 
jects which stood in the nearest relation to the most 
weighty practical interests of the heart such as the 
knowledge of the truth, the idea of genuine wisdom, the 
life of blessedness and the way to it. Monnica took part 
in the discussion, and showed a rare degree of good 
sense and strength of intellect, so that the men forgot her 
sex and thought that " some great man was in their cir 
cle." These discourses were written down, and thus the 
earliest works of the great theologian, mostly philosophi 
cal in their contents, took their rise. 

Of these the most important are : First, three books 
against the sceptical school of the Later Academy (Con 
tra Academicos), which denied the possibility of know 
ing the truth. In opposition it was shown that scepti 
cism either abrogates itself or, in a modified form, as a 
scheme of probabilities, bears witness to the existence of 
truth, for the probable must presuppose the true. Not 
the mere striving after truth, only the possession of it, 
can render happy. But it is only to be found in God, 
since He alone is happy who is in God and God in Him. 
The second discourse is a tract on the Life of Blessedness 
(De Beata Vita), in which these latter thoughts are 
further developed. And last, his " Soliloquies," or 
.Discourses with his own Soul, concerning God, concern 
ing the highest good, concerning his own nature, immor 
tality, and the like. From these we will quote a single 
passage, to show the state of his mind at that time. 

" O God, Creator of the world" thus he prayed to the Lord 
" grant me, first of all, grace to call upon Thee in a manner well- 
pleasing unto Thee ; that I may so conduct myself, that Thou mayest 
hear and then help me. Thou God, through whom all, that cannot 
be of itself, rises into being ; who even dost not suffer to fall into 
destruction what would destroy itself ; who never workest evil and 
rulest over the power of evil ; who revealest unto the few who seek 



116 SAINT AUGUSTIN. 

after a true existence that evil can be overcome ; God, to whom the 
universe, in spite of evil, is perfect ; God, whom what can love, loves 
consciously or unconsciously ; God, in whom all is, and whom yet 
neither the infamy of the creature can disgrace., nor his wickedness 
defile, nor his error lead astray ; God, who hast preserved the knowl 
edge of the truth for the pure alone ; Father of truth, Father of 
wisdom, Father of true and perfect life, Father of blessedness, Father 
of the good and the beautiful, Father of our awakening and enlight 
ening, Father of the promise by which we are encouraged to return 
unto Thee, I invoke Thee, O Truth, in which and from which and 
by which all is true, that is true ; O Wisdom, in which and from 
which and by which all is wise, that is wise ; O true and most per 
fect Life, in which and from which and by which all lives, that lives ; 
O Blessedness, in which and from which and by which all is blessed, 
that is blessed ; Beauty and Goodness, in which and from which 
and by which all is good and beautiful, that is good and beautiful ; 

spiritual Light, in which and from which and by which all is spirit 
ually light, that is spiritually light ; God, from whom to turn away 
is to fall, to whom to turn again is to rise, in whom to remain is to 
endure ; God, from whom to withdraw is to die, to whom to return 
is to live again, in whom to dwell is to live ; O God, Thou who dost 
sanctify and prepare us for an everlasting inheritance, bow down Thy 
self to me in pity ! Come to my help, Thou one, eternal, true Essence, 
in whom there is no discord, no confusion, no change, no need, no 
death, but the highest unity, the highest purity, the highest durabil 
ity, the highest fulness, the highest life. Hear, hear, hear me, my 
God, my Lord, my King, my Father, my Hope, my Desire, my Glory, 
my Habitation, my Home, my Salvation, my Light, my Life, hear, 
hear, hear me, as Thou art wont to hear Thy Chosen. 

" Already, I love Thee alone, follow Thee alone, seek Thee alone, 
am prepared to serve Thee only, because Thou alone rulest in right 
eousness. command and order what Thou wilt, but heal and open 
mine ears, that I may hear Thy word ; deal and open mine eyes, that 

1 may see Thy nod ; drive out my delusion, that I may recognize 
Thee again. O gracious Father, take back again Thy wanderer. 
Have I not been chastised enough ? Have I not long enough served 
Thine enemies, whom Thou hast under Thy feet long enough been 
the sport of deception ? Keceive me as Thy servant, for I fly from 
those who received me as a stranger, when I fled from Thee. In 
crease in me faith, hope, love, according to Thy wonderful and inim 
itable goodness. 

" I desire to come to Thee, and again implore Thee for that by 



SOJOURN IN THE COUNTRY. 117 

which I may come. For where Thou forsakest, there is destruction ; 
but Thou dost not forsake, because Thou art the Highest Good, 
which every one, who seeks aright, will surely find. But he seeks it 
aright, to whom Thou hast given power to seek aright. Grant me 
power, O Father, to seek Thee aright ; shield me from error ! Let me 
not, when I seek, find another in Thy stead. I desire none other 
bat Thee ; O let me yet find Thee, my Father ! But such a desire is 
vain, since Thou Thyself canst purify me and fit me to behold Thee. 
" Whatever else the welfare of my mortal body may need, I com 
mit into Thy hands, most wise and gracious Father, as long as I do 
not know what may be good for me, or those whom I love, and will, 
therefore, pray just as Thou wilt make it known at- the time. Only 
this I beseech out of Thy great mercy, that Thou wilt convert me 
wholly unto Thyself, and when I obtain Thee, suffer me to be noth 
ing else, and grant also, that, as long as I live and bear aboxit this 
body, I may be pure and magnanimous, just and wise, filled with 
love and the knowledge of Thy wisdom, and worthy of an entrance 
into Thy blessed kingdom." 

There are few traces of a specific churchly character in 
these writings. They exhibit rather a Platonism full of 
high thoughts, ideal views, and subtle dialectics, in 
formed and hallowed by the spirit of Christianity. 
Many things were retracted by him at a later period 
e.g., the Platonic opinion that the human soul had a pre- 
existence before its present life, and that the learning of 
a science is a restoration of it to memory, a disinterment, 
so to speak, of knowledge already existing, but covered 
over in the mind. He had yet many steps to take before 
reaching the depth and clearness of Christian knowledge 
which distinguished his later writings, and before the 
new life obtained full mastery within. 

After his conversion, he did indeed abandon unlawful 
sexual intercourse. But now the pictures of his former 
sensual indulgence not seldom troubled his fancy in 
dreams. This he regarded as sin, and reproached him 
self bitterly. " Am I," he cried out " am I not then 
dreaming what I am, O Lord, my God ? Is not Thy 



118 SAINT AUGUSTUS 1 . 

mighty hand able to purge all the weakness of my soul, 
and frighten away with more abundant grace the con 
cupiscence of my dreams ? Yea, Thou wilt grant unto 
me more and more Thy gifts, that my soul may follow 
Thee and be with Thee even in dreams full of purity ; 
Thou, who art able to do more than we can ask or under 
stand." 



CHAPTER XVIII. 



IN the beginning of the year 387 he returned to Milan, 
and along with his preparation for baptism kept up his 
literary activity. He wished to portray the different 
steps of human knowledge by which he himself had 
been gradually led to absolute knowledge, for the pur 
pose of leading others to the sanctuary, and wrote works 
on grammar, logic, rhetoric, geometry, arithmetic, phi 
losophy, music, and on the immortality of the soul, of 
which only the last two were completed and have come 
down to us.* 

Meanwhile the wished-for hour of baptism arrived. 
On Easter Sabbath of this year he received, at the hands 
of the venerable Ambrose, this holy sacrament, in com 
pany with his friend Alypius, who, as he says, always 
differed from him for the better, and with his son Adeo- 
datus, who was now fifteen years of age, and, preserved 

* The book on grammar and the principles of logic and rhetoric in 
the first volume of the Benedictine edition of Augiistin s works is 
spurious, because it lacks the form of dialogue and the higher bear 
ing which he gave to his writings on these subjects. 



AUGUSTUS S BAPTISM. 119 

from the evil courses of Ins father, had surrendered to 
the Lord his youthful soul, with all its rare endowments. 

This solemn act and the succeeding festivals of Easter 
and Whitsuntide, in which the Church entered her spirit 
ual spring, and basked in the warm sunlight of a Saviour 
risen from the dead and eternally present hy his Spirit, 
made the deepest impression upon Augustin. 

The solemnity of this festival was still further height 
ened by two circumstances one connected with super 
stition and relic- worship, the other with the effect of 
hymns upon the heart. 

The first was the miraculous discovery of the long- 
concealed relics of the traditional protomartyrs of Milan, 
Protasius and Gervasius two otherwise unknown Roman 
citizens and missionaries who were believed to have 
been beheaded in the persecution of Nero or Domitian. 
These relics were conveyed into the Ambrosian Basilica, 
anrl, according to the current belief of that credulous 
age, w T rought there an astonishing miracle in support of 
Nicene orthodoxy against the Arian heresy.* 



* Confess. IX. 7 : " Then didst Thou, by a vision, discover to Thy 
forenamed bishop [Ambrose] where the bodies of Gervasius and 
Protasius, the martyrs, lay hid (whom Thou hadst in Thy secret treas 
ury stored uncorrupted so many \ears), whence Thou mightest sea 
sonably produce them to repress the fury of a woman, but an Em 
press [Justina]." Then Augustin relates the healing of demoniacs 
and of a blind man by the touch of the relics. He again refers to 
this noted miracle, in De. Civ. Dei xxii. 8, as having occurred in the 
presence of an immense multitude. Ambrose explained it at length 
in a sermon, wherein he said that the Arians admitted the fact of 
healing, but denied the cause. Comp. his letter to his sister, Mar- 
cellina, Ep. xxii. (al. LtV.). These are the two authorities for the 
legend of the protomartyrs of Milan. The subject of post- apostolic 
miracles is involved in inextricable difficulties. Augustin himself is 
not consistent in this matter. See his opinions in Schaff s Church, 
History, vol. iii., 459 sqq. 



120 SAINT AUGUSTIN. 

Just then, also, Ambrose had transplanted the Church- 
hymns of the East into his congregation, and had added 
to them, as the father of Latin hymnody, productions of 
his own, conceived and executed in a noble, liturgical 
style. < I could not," says Augustin, " satiate myself 
in those days with the wonderful delight of meditating 
on the depth of Thy divine counsel in the salvation of 
the human race. How did I weep amid Thy hymns and 
chants, powerfully moved by the sweetly-sounding voice 
of Thy Church ! Those tones poured into my ear ; the 
truth dropped into my heart, and kindled there the fire 
of devotion ; tears ran down my cheeks in the fulness 
of my joy !" * 

As is well known, Ambrose gets credit as the author 
of the magnificent anthem, Te Deum laudamus, which 
is worthy of a place among David s Psalms of thanks- 
giving. A mediaeval tradition says that it was composed 
by Ambrose and Augustin jointly, during the baptism of 
the latter, as if by inspiration from above, each singing 
in response, verse after verse. But neither Ambrose nor 
Augustin alludes to it anywhere. The Te Deum is of 
much later date (the sixth century), though several lines 
can be traced to an older Greek original. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

MONNICA S LAST DAYS AND DEATH. 

SOON after his baptism, in the summer of the year 
387, he entered on his homeward journey to Africa, in 
company with his relatives and friends, in order to con- 

* Confess. IX. 6. 



MONNICA-S LAST DAYS AND DEATH. 121 

thine there the life of divine contemplation already 
begnn in Cassiciacum. Among them was Evodins of 
Tagaste, a cultivated man, who was baptized a short time 
before, and now forsook the service of the Emperor to 
live in like manner exclusively for the higher world. 

Already had they reached Ostia at the mouth of the 
Tiber, about a day s journey from Rome ; already had 
they made the necessary preparations for embarking, 
when the sudden death of Monnica frustrated the plan. 
The faithful soul had now experienced the highest joy 
for which she had wished to live she had seen the 
Saviour in the heart of her son, and could, like Hannah 
and Simeon of old, depart in peace to that true home 
which is more beautiful and sweeter far than Africa. 

One day Augustin sat with his mother at a garden- 
window in Ostia, and conversed with her about the rest 
of eternity and its holy pleasures, which no eye has seen 
and no ear heard, but which God has prepared for them 
that love Him. Let us listen to his own narrative : 

" Forgetting the past, and looking only toward the 
future, we asked ourselves, in the presence of the Truth, 
which Thou art, what the eternal life of the saints will 
be. And we opened longingly the mouths of our hearts 
to receive the celestial overflowings of Thy fountain, the 
fountain of life, that is with Thee, that being bedewed 
from it according to our capacity, we might meditate 
carefully upon this solemn subject. When now our dis 
course had reached that point, that no pleasure of corpo 
real sense, regarded in what brilliant light soever, durst 
for a moment be named with the glory of that life, much 
less compared with it, we mounted upward in ardent 
longing, and wandered step by step through all the mate 
rial universe the heavens, from which sun, moon, and 
stars beam down upon the earth. And we rose yet 



123 SAINT AUGUSTUS. 

higher in inward thought, discourse, and admiration of 
Thy wonderful works, and on the wings of the spirit we 
rose above these also, in order to reach yon sphere of 
inexhaustible fulness, where Thou dost feed Israel to all 
eternity upon the pastures of Truth, where life is, and 
Truth by which all was made, that was there and will 
be. But truth itself was not made ; it is as it wa_s and 
always will be ; for to have been and to be are not in it, 
but being, because it is eternal. For to have ~been and to 
be are not eternal. While we were thus talking and de 
siring, we touched it gently in full rapture of heart, and 
left bound there the first-fruits of the Spirit, and turned 
again to the sound of our lips, where the word begins 
and ends. And what is like Thy Word, our Lord, who 
remains unchanged in Himself, and renews all ? We 
spake thus : If the tumult of the flesh were silent, and 
the images of earth, sea, and air were silent, and the 
poles were silent, arid the soul itself were silent, trans 
cending its own thoughts ; if dreams and the revelations 
of fancy, and every language, and every sign, and every 
thing represented by them were silent ; if all were silent, 
for to him who hears, all these say, we have not made 
ourselves, but He who made us dwells in eternity ; if, 
at this call, they were now silent, with ear uplifted to 
their Creator, and He should speak alone, not by them, 
but unmediated, so that we heard His own Word, not 
through a tongue of flesh, not through the voice of an 
angel, not through the roar of thunder, not through the 
dark outlines of a similitude, but from Himself, whom 
we love in them, and whom, without them, we heard as 
we now mounted, and with the rapid flight of thought 
touched the eternal truth that lies beyond them all ; if 
this contemplation should continue, arid no other foreign 
visions mingle with it, and if this alone should take hold 



MONNICA S LAST DAYS AND DEATH. 123 

of, and absorb, and wrap up its beholder in more inward 
joys, and such a life as that of which, now recovering 
our breath, we have had a momentary taste, were to last 
forever, would not then the saying, Enter into the joy 
of your Lord, be fulfilled ?" 

In the presentiment that she would soon enter into the 
joy of her Lord, Monnica, struck by the inspired words 
of her son, said : " Son, what has befallen me ? Noth 
ing has any more charms for me in this life. What I 
am yet to do here, and why I am here, I do not know, 
every hope of this world being now consumed. Once 
there was a reason why I should wish to live longer, that 1 
might see you a believing Christian * before I die. God 
has now richly granted me this beyond measure, in per 
mitting me to see you in His service, having totally 
abandoned the world. What yet have I to do here ?" 

Ary Scheffer, the French painter, of the romantic 
school, has fixed on this sublime moment of elevation to 
the beatific vision for his famous and beautiful, though 
somewhat sentimental picture of Monnica and her son. 

" Together neath the Italian heaven 
They sit, the mother and her son, 
He late from her by errors riven, 
Now both in Jesus one : 
The dear consenting hands are knit, 
And either face, as there they sit, 
Is lifted as to something seen 
Beyond the blue serene." 

Five or six days after this conversation and foretaste 
of the eternal Sabbath-rest of the saints, the pious 
mother was attacked by a fever, which in a short time 



* Or more strictly, after the original, Confess. IX. 10, Chrislianum 
catholicum, ".a Catholic (or orthodox) Christian," in distinction not 
merely from a Paganus, but also and particularly from a Christianus 
hcerttivus and schismaticus, which Augustin had formerly been. 



124 SAINT AUGUSTIN. 

exhausted her vital powers. Her two sons were contin 
ually at her bedside. Augnstin was now indeed more 
than ever bowed down with grief that he had caused her 
so many tears and pains, and soughi, by the last tender 
offices of love, to make as much amends as possible. 
Monnica read his heart, and assured him with tender 
affection that he had never spoken an unkind word to 
her. Before, it had always been her wish to die at 
home and rest beside the grave of her husband. But 
now tin s natural wish was merged into loftier resignation 
to the will of God : " Bury my body somewhere here," 
said she, " and do not concern yourselves on its account ; 
only this I beg of you, that you will be mindful of me 
at the altar of God, where you will be." * To the ques 
tion, whether it would not be terrible to her to be buried 
so far from her fatherland, she replied : " Nothing is far 
from God ; and there is no fear that lie will not know 
at the end of time where to raise me up." 

Thus, in the fifty-sixth year of her age, on the ninth 
day of her sickness, this noble- hearted woman expired in 
the arms of her son, at the mouth of the Tiber, on the 
shore of the Mediterranean Sea, which separated Italy 
from the land of her birth. Yet, long after her death, 
has she consoled and comforted thousands of anxious 
mothers and encouraged them in patient waiting and 
perseverance in prayer. Her memory remains forever 
dear and blessed to the Christian world, f 

* Confess. IX. 11 : " Tantum illud vos royo, nt ad Domini aHare memi- 
nerilis mei, ubifuerilis." This thanksgiving and prayer for the dead 
can be traced, in its innocent form, as far back as the second cen 
tury, and became the fruitful germ of the doctrine of purgatory. 
Neither Monnica nor Augustin grasped the full meaning of St. Paul s 
assurance that it is " very far better to be with Christ " (Phil. i. 23). 

f In an epitaph of Bassus, ex-Consul, dating from the early part of 
the fifth century, Monnica is addressed as " Mother of Virtues," and 



MONNICA S LAST DAYS AND DEATH. 125 

Adeodatus cried aloud. Augustin himself could 
scarcely restrain by force the gush of tears and quiet the 
overpowering feelings of grief which were rushing into 
his heart, He believed it was not becoming " to honor 
such a corpse with the tearful wailings and groans which 
are usually given to those who die a miserableyea, an 
eternal death." For his mother had not died miserably : 
she had merely entered into the joy of her Lord. When 
the weeping had subsided, his friend Evodius took up 
the psalter : " I will sing of mercy and judgment ; unto 
Thee, O Lord, will I sing" (Ps. ci. 1) ; and the whole 
house joined in the response. 

After the corpse had been buried, and the holy Sup 
per celebrated on the grave, according to the custom of 
the age, in the consciousness of a communion of saints 
uninterrupted by death, Augustin, finding himself at 
home alone with his God, gave his tears free vent, and 
wept sorely and long over her who had shed so many 
tears of maternal love and solicitude on his account. But 
he begs his readers to fulfil the last wish of his mother, 
and remember her at the altar of the Lord with thanks 
giving and prayer. " In this transitory life let them re 
member my parents with pious affection, and my broth 
ers, who, under Thee, the Father, are children in the 
mother, the Catholic Church, and my fellow-citizens in 
the heavenly Jerusalem, after which Thy people sigh 

Augustin as her yet " happier offspring." This shows the early rev 
erence paid to her memory. See the epitaph in Brieger s " Zeit- 
schrift fiir Kirchengeschichte," vol. 1, p. 228. Monnica is a saint in 
the Koman calendar, April 4 (Sanda M-mnica vidua). Her bones 
were translated from Ostia to Rome in 1430 under Pope Martin V., 
and deposited in a chapel dedicated to Augustin. She often appears 
in mediaeval pictures ; especially famous is Ary Scheff er s St. Augustin 
et fsa mere Ste. Monique (1845). It is in the same style as his Dante 
and Beatrice. 



126 SAINT AUGUSTIN. 

from the beginning to the end of their pilgrimage, so 
that what she asked of me in her last moments may be 
more abundantly fulfilled to her by the prayers and con 
fessions of many, than by my prayers alone." * 

These words are taken from the conclusion of the his 
torical part of the Confessions, in which Angustin, with 
the rarest candor and in a spirit of the severest self-criti 
cism and unfeigned humility, in presence of the whole 
world, acknowledges to God his sins and errors, and 
praises, with devout gratitude, the wonderful hand 
which, even in his widest wanderings, guided him, took 
hold of him, in the anxiety and prayers of his mother, 
in the better inclinations of his heart, in his internal con 
flicts, his increasing discontent, and his pining after God, 
and led him at last, after many storms, into the haven of 
faith and peace. In this autobiography we behold the 
great Church-doctor of all ages " lying in the dust of 
humility in converse with God and basking in the sun 
light of His love, his readers only sweeping before him 
like shadows." He takes all his glory, all his greatness, 
all his culture, and lays them devoutly at the feet of free 
grace. His deepest feeling is " All that is good in me 
is Thy ordering and Thy gift ; all that is evil is my guilt 
and my judgment.". No motive, drawn from anything 
without, prompted him to this public confession. It 
sprang from the innermost impulse of his soul. " I be 
lieve," says he, " and therefore I speak, as Thou, Lord, 
knowest. Have I not confessed my guilt before Thee, 
and hast Thou not forgiven the sins of my soul ? Never 
will I excuse or justify myself before Thee, who art 
Truth itself ; no, I will not justify myself before Thee ; 
for if Thou art strict to mark iniquity, who can stand ?" 



* Confess. IX. 13, conclusion. 



SECOND VISIT TO ROME, AND RETURN TO AFRICA. 127 

Most touching is his sad complaint that he was converted 
to the Lord so late in life, since one single hour of com 
munion with Him is worth more than all the joys of the 
world besides. " 1 have loved Thee late, whose beauty 
is as old as eternity, and yet so new ; I have loved Thee 
late. And lo ! Thou wert within, but I was without, 
and sought Thee there. And amid Thy beautiful crea 
tion I covered myself with loathsomeness, for Thou wert 
with me, and I not in Thee. The external world held me 
far from Thee, though it were not, if I were not in Thee. 
Thou didst call loud and louder, and break through my 
deafness ; Thou didst beam down bright and brighter, 
and overcome my blindness ; Thou didst breathe, and I 
recovered breath and life again, and breathed in Thee. 
I would taste Thee, and hungered and thirsted. Thou 
didst touch me, and, burning, I longed after Thy peace. 
If ever 1 may live in Thee, with all that is in me. then 
will pain and trouble leave me ; tilled wholly with Thee, 
all within me will be life." 



CHAPTER XX. 

SECOND VISIT TO ROME, AND RETURN TO AFRICA. 

IN consequence of the death of his mother Augustin 
changed his plan of travel, and went, first of all, with 
his company to Rome, where he remained ten months. 

During this time he publicly attacked his former 
friends, the Manichseans. He was better fitted than any 
one of his contemporaries for confuting their errors. 
"I could not," says he, in his Retractions^ " bear in 



128 SAINT AUGUSTIN". 

silence that the Manichaeans should delude the ignorant, 
through boasting, by their false, deceptive abstemious 
ness and moderation ; and elevate themselves even above 
true Christians, with whom they are not worthy to be 
compared ; and so 1 wrote two books, the one on the 
Morals of the Catholic Church, the other on the Morals 
of the Manichaeans." 

Toward autumn of the year 388, he sailed to Africa, 
and, after a transient stay in Carthage with his friend 
Innocentius, a godly man, who had just then been deliv 
ered by prayer from a dangerous sickness, he proceeded 
to a country-seat near Tagaste, which, along with other 
real estate, he had inherited from his father. In literal 
obedience to the command of Christ to the rich young 
man (Matt. xix. 21), and in imitation of the example of 
many saints of previous ages, he sold his possessions and 
gave the proceeds to the poor, retaining, as it appears, 
his dwelling and the necessary means of subsistence. 

Here he lived with his friends three years in a com 
plete community of goods, retired from the world, in 
prayer, study, and meditation. He was, however, fre 
quently interrupted by the inhabitants of the city asking 
counsel about their spiritual and temporal affairs. Nu 
merous philosophical, polemical, and theological writings 
are the fruits of this sojourn in the country. 

In the year 391 Augustin was called by an imperial 
commissioner to the Jsumidian seaport, Hippo Regius, 
the Bona of our time. He is yet known among the 
natives of that place as " The Great Christian" (Kumi 
Kebir). Hippo was destroyed by the Yandals soon after 
Augustin s death. Since the French conquest of Al 
giers it was rebuilt, and is now one of the finest towns in 
North Africa, numbering over ten thousand inhabitants 
French, Moors, and Jews. A monument was erected 



AUGUSTUS" PRIEST AND BISHOP OF HIPPO. 129 

to Augustin, his bronze statue on a pedestal of white 
marble. On the summit of the hill is a large Catholic 
charitable institution, where possibly may have been his 
garden, from which, looking out to the sea and up to 
heaven, he mused on " the City of God." 



CHAPTER XXI. 

AUGUSTIN PRIEST AND BISHOP OF HIPPO. 

HAVING arrived at Hippo, he was forced into public 
office against his will. For, on one occasion, as he was 
listening to a sermon of the Bishop Valerius, a native of 
Greece, and the latter remarked that the congregation 
needed a priest, the people cried out for Augustin. 

He was amazed, and burst into tears, for he did not 
wish to give up his peaceful, ascetic and literary retire 
ment, and did not consider himself qualified for the re 
sponsible station. He followed, however, the guidance of 
that Hand which drew him, as it does every true reform 
er, into the arena of public life against his own inclination. 
He only begged for some months to prepare for the solemn 
office, and assumed its duties on Easter of the year 392. 

His relation to the bishop was very pleasant. Valerius 
acknowledged the decided intellectual superiority of 
Augustin, and, without envy, gave it free play for the 
public good. He allowed him to preach frequently, 
contrary to the usual custom of the African bishops, who 
granted this privilege to the priests orrly during their 
absence. Soon after he made him an associate, with the 
consent of the Bishop of Carthage. But when Augustin 



130 SAINT AUGUSTUS". 

learned the existence of a decree of the Council of 
forbidding two bishops in one congregation, he had a 
resolution passed by a Synod of Carthage that, in order 
to prevent similar irregularities, the Church canons 
should be read by every clergyman before ordination. 

In the year 395, Valerius died, and Augustin was now 
sole Bishop of Hippo, and remained so till the day of his 
death. He says in one of his Epistles : " So exceed 
ingly did I dread the episcopate that, because my reputa 
tion had now begun to be of some account among the 
servants of God, I would not go to any place where I 
knew there was no bishop. I did what I could that in a 
low place I might be saved, lest in a high one I should be 
perilled. But the servant must not oppose his Master. 
I came to this city to see a friend whom I thought 1 
might gain to God, that he might live with us in the 
monastery ; I came as being safe, the place having a 
bishop already. I was laid hold of, made a presbyter, 
and by this step came to the episcopate." 

In this position he was now to unfold, during a period 
of thirty-eight successive years, first as priest, and then, 
as bishop, the rich treasures of his genius for the benefit 
of the congregation, and the whole Church in his age and 
all coming centuries. He was indispensable. Difficul 
ties of deep and universal importance were arising, with 
which he alone was fitted to cope. 

Erasmus complains that the powers of Augustin were 
wasted upon Africa, and thinks that he might have pro 
duced still nobler fruits in Italy or Gaul. He was mis 
taken. Africa presented at the time a strange mixture 
of native barbarism, imported civilization of the Ro 
mans, Christianity, and lingering heathenism, not unlike 
the present aspect of French Algiers or British East 
India. Aruspices still offered sacrifices. Riotous feasts 



AUGUSTIN S DOMESTIC LIFE. 131 

of heathen idols were nominally changed into services in 
honor of Christian martyrs. The Christian forces were 
divided. The Donastist Schismatics were almost as nu 
merous as the Catholics, and the Manichrean heretics, not 
to mention smaller sects, were spread over all the cities. 
It was no rare thing to find even in a smaller town three 
rival bishops Catholic, Donatist, and Manichsean. But 
it was just in conflict with these antagonistic elements 
that Augustin s genius developed its resources ; and in 
contrast with the surrounding vices and signs of approach 
ing decay his virtue and piety shine with the greater 
lustre. Such a man belongs to the world at large and 
to all ages. 



CHAPTER XXII. 



will now first glance at Augustin s private life, 
then consider him as bishop, and lastly exhibit his public 
activity in the Church and the world of letters, and its 
influence upon succeeding generations. 

His mode of living was very simple, and bore that 
ascetic character which accords rather with the genius of 
Catholicism than of Protestantism ; but it was also free 
from narrow bigotry and Pharisaical self -righteousness, 
which connect themselves so readily with monastic piety. 

He dwelt with his clergy in one house, and strove with 
them to copy after the first community of Christians 
(Acts iv. 31). All things were common : no one had 
more than another ; even he himself was never pre 
ferred. God and Ilis Church were enough for them. 



}32 SAINT AUGUSTIX. 

Whoever would not consent to this was not admitted into 
his clerical body. 

He was extremely sparing in his diet, and lived mostly 
on herbs and pulse. After the custom of those coun 
tries, wine was placed before all, a certain measure to 
each, yet of course further indulgence was severely re 
buked. While they sat at table a passage from some 
good book was read aloud, or they conversed freely to 
gether, but were never allowed to attack the character 
of any one who was absent. Augustin enforced the ob 
servance of this rule of brotherly love very strictly. His 
clothing and house furniture were decent, without show 
or luxury. He was particularly prudent in regard to the 
female sex, for he permitted no woman, not even his 
nearest relative, to live in the episcopal house. Nor 
did he trust himself to enter into conversation with any, 
except in the presence of an ecclesiastic. Personally he 
preferred, like St. Paul and most of the Fathers, the un 
married estate (1 Cor. vii. 1, 7, 8). In this he must be 
judged by the ascetic standard of the early Church, 
which, in opposition to heathen immorality, went to the 
opposite extreme of an overestimate of virginity as a 
higher form of virtue than chastity in married life. 

He also established a kind of theological seminary, 
where candidates could prepare themselves in a practical 
as well as theoretical manner, for their important duties 
as preachers of the Gospel. They certainly could find no 
better instructor. Already as a priest he had attracted 
to Hippo his old friends Alypius and Evodius, and sev 
eral new ones, among whom were Possidius and Severus, 
for the prosecution of mutual studies, and these formed 
the beginning of that theological nursery out of which 
ten bishops and many inferior clergy went forth from 
time to time. 



ADMINISTRATION OF THE EPISCOPAL OFFICE. 133 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

ADMINISTRATION OF THE EPISCOPAL OFFICE AND PUBLIC 
ACTIVITY. 

As a bishop, Augustin was pre-eminently faithful and 
conscientious in the discharge of his manifold duties. 
He felt deeply the solemn responsibilities of the spiritual 
calling. "There is nothing," says he, "in this life, 
and especially in this age, more easy, more agreeable, 
and more acceptable to men than the office of bishop or 
presbyter or deacon, if its duties are performed at pleas 
ure and in a time-serving spirit ; but in the eyes of God 
nothing more miserable, more sad, more damnable. Like 
wise, there is nothing in this life, and especially in this 
age, more difficult, more laborious, more dangerous than 
the office of bishop or presbyter or deacon, but also more 
blessed before God, if a man conducts himself therein as 
a true soldier under the banner of Christ." * 

To the ministry of the Word he applied himself dili 
gently, preaching often five days in succession, and on 
some days twice. Whenever he found time he prepared 
himself for it. When, out of the fulness of inspiration 
he spoke from the holy place, he felt that human lan 
guage was insufficient to express, in a fit and lively man- 

* Ep. 21, torn. xi. ed. Bened. Words well worthy of being pon 
dered on by every candidate of Theology. " Nihil est in hacvita,et 
maxime hoc tempore, facilius et laetius et hominibus acceptabUius episcopi, 
aut presbyter i, aid diaconi officio, si perfundorie alque adulatorie res 
agatur ; sed nihil apud Deum miserius el tristius et damnabilius. Item 
nihil est in hac vita, et maxime in hoc tempore, difficilius, laboriosius, per- 
iculosius episcopi, aut presbyteri, aut diaconi officio ; sed apud Deum nihil 
beatius, si eo modo militetur, quo nosier imperator jubet." 



134 SAINT AUGUSTIK. 

tier, the thoughts and feelings which streamed through 
his soul with the speed of lightning. He set before him 
as the aim of spiritual oratory to preach himself and his 
hearers into Christ, so that all might live with him and 
he with all in Christ. This was his passion, his honor, 
his boast, his joy, his riches. 

He frequently spent whole days in bringing about a 
reconciliation between parties who were at variance. It 
was irksome to a man of his contemplative disposition, 
but a sense of duty rendered him superior to the dis 
agreeable nature of the occupation. He speaks of " the 
perplexities of other people s differences in secular mat 
ters," which he was asked to decide or to adjust by 
mediation ; and alludes to " innumerable other ecclesias 
tical toils, which no one perhaps believes who has not 
tried." Like Ambrose, he often interceded with the 
authorities in behalf of the unfortunate, and procured 
for them either justice or mercy. He took the poor 
under his special care, and looked upon each clergyman 
as their father. Once, when he observed that but little 
was cast into the collection-boxes, he concluded his ser 
mon with the words : "I am a beggar for beggars, and 
take pleasure in being so, in order that you may be num 
bered among the children of God." Like Ambrose, he 
even melted up the vessels of the sanctuary, in extreme 
cases, for the relief of the suffering and the redemption 
of the prisoner. Unlike many bishops of his time, he 
does not seem to have set his heart upon the enrichment 
of the Church. He would accept no legacy where in 
justice would be done to the natural heirs, for " the 
Church desires no unrighteous inheritance ;" and there 
fore he praised Bishop Aurelius, of Carthage, in a ser 
mon, because he had restored, without solicitation, his 
entire property to a man who had willed it to the Church, 



ADMINISTRATION OF THE EPISCOPAL OFFICE. 135 

and whose wife had afterward unexpectedly borne him 
children. 

Along with his seminary for the clergy he also estab 
lished religious societies for women. Over one of these 
his sister, a godly widow, presided. On one occasion he 
assured his congregation that he could not easily find 
better, but had also nowhere found worse people than in 
these cloisters. 

But the activity of Augustin extended beyond the 
limits of his own congregation, and reached the entire 
African yea, the entire Western Church. He was the 
leading genius of the African Synods, which were held 
toward the close of the fourth and the beginning of the 
fifth century, at Carthage, A.D. 397, 403, 411, 413, 419, 
and in other places, particularly against the Donatists 
and Pelagians. He took the liveliest interest in all the 
questions which were then agitated, and was unwearied 
in devoting his powers to the general good. 

The Catholic Church had at that time three great ene 
mies, who threatened to deface and tear her in pieces at 
every point, and had even forced themselves into the 
congregation of Hippo. These were Manichaeism, Don- 
atism, and Pelagianism. Augustin was their great oppo 
nent and final conqueror. The whole spiritual power of 
the Latin Church concentrated itself, so to speak, in 
him for the overthrow of these antagonists. He left no 
lawful means unemployed for the expulsion of the evil. 
But he principally fought with the weapon of argument, 
and wrote a large number of works which, although de 
signed specially for the necessities and circumstances of 
the time, yet contain a store of profound truths for all 
ages. 



136 SAINT AUGUSTIN. 

CHAPTER XXIY. 

LAST YEARS AND DEATH. 

IN his latter years Augustin cast one more glance be 
hind upon his entire literary course, and in his Retrac 
tions subjected it to a severe criticism. His writings 
against the Semi-Pelagians, in which .a milder and more 
gentle spirit reigns, belong to this period. Like Luther 
and Melanchthon, he was inclined to melancholy with 
the failure of his bodily strength. This was increased by 
much bitter experience and the heavy misfortunes which 
befell his fatherland. 

The Yandal king, Genseric, with fifty thousand war 
riors, among whom were Goths and Alani, in May of the 
year 428, crossed over from Spain to Africa, which was 
now filled with confusion and desolation. These barba 
rians raged more fiercely than wild beasts of prey, re 
duced towns and villages to ashes, spared no age or sex, 
were especially severe against the orthodox clergy, be 
cause they themselves were Arians, and changed that 
beautiful country into a desert. 

Augustin was of the opinion that the bishops at least 
should stand by their congregations in the hour of need, 
that the bonds which the love of Christ had knit should 
not be rent asunder, and that they should endure quietly 
whatever God might send. " Whoever flies," he wrote 
to Bishop Quodvultdeus, " so that the Church is not de 
prived of the necessary ministrations, he does what God 
commands or permits. But whoever so flies that the 
flock of Christ is left without the nourishment by which 
it spiritually lives, he is an hireling, who, seeing the wolf 
come, flies because he has no care for the sheep." 



LAST YEARS AND DEATH. 137 

Boniface, the commander-in-chief of the imperial 
forces in Africa, who was friendly to Augustin, though 
the occasion of much trouble to him, was beaten by the 
Yandals, and threw himself with the remnant of his army 
into the fortified city of Hippo, where Possidius and 
several other bishops had taken refuge. Augustin was 
sorely oppressed by the calamities of his country and the 
destruction of divine worship, which could now be cele 
brated only in the strongholds of Carthage, Cirta, and 
Hippo. At table he once expressed himself to his friends 
in the following language : " What I pray God for is 
that He will deliver this city from the enemy, or if He 
has determined otherwise, that He may strengthen His 
servant for his sufferings, or, which I would rather, that 
He will call me from this world to Himself." 

The last wish was granted him. In the third month 
of the siege he was attacked by a violent fever, and ten 
days before his death he withdrew into retirement, after 
having, up till that time, proclaimed the Word of God 
to his congregation without interruption. He spent this 
season in reading the penitential psalms, which were at 
tached to the wall by his bedside, in holy meditations, 
tears, prayers, and intercessions. He once said that no 
one, especially no priest, ought to depart this life with 
out earnest repentance, and wrote concerning himself : 
" I will not cease to weep until He comes, and I appear 
before Him, and these tears are to me pleasant nutri 
ment. The thirst which consumes me, and incessantly 
draws me toward yon fountain of my life this thirst is 
always more burning when 1 see my salvation delayed. 
This inextinguishable desire carries me away to those 
streams, as well amid the joys as amid the sorrows of this 
world. Yea, if I stand well with the world I am 
wretcKed in myself, until I appear before God." 



138 SAINT AUGUSTUS. 

On the 28tli of August, 430, in the seventy-sixth year 
of his age, the great man peacefully departed into a bliss 
ful eternity, in the full possession of his faculties, and in 
the presence of his friends. 

He left no will, for, having embraced voluntary pov 
erty, he had nothing to dispose of, except his books and 
manuscripts, which he bequeathed to the Church.* 

Soon after Hippo was taken. Henceforth Africa was 
lost to the Romans, and vanished from the arena of 
Church History. The culminating point of the spiritual 
greatness of the African Church was also that of her 
ruin. But her ripest fruit, the spirit and the theology of 
Augustin, could not perish. It fell on the soil of Europe, 
where it has produced new glorious flowers and fruits, 
and to this day exerts a mighty influence in Catholic and 
Protestant Christendom. 



CHAPTER XXV. 



AIIGUSTIN is the most fruitful author among the Latin 
Church-Fathers. His writings are almost too numerous. 
One of his biographers reckons them, including about 
four hundred sermons and two hundred and seventy let 
ters, at ten hundred and thirty. Others reduce the whole 



* His friend and biographer, Possidius, says, Vit. Aug. c. 31 : " Tes- 
tamenhim nullum fecit, quia unde faceret, pauper Dei non habuit. Ec~ 
device bibliothecam omnesque codices diligenler posteris custodiendos semper 
jubebal." 



AUGUSTIN S WRITINGS. 139 

number to two hundred and thirty-two, and the larger 
ones to ninety-three. They fill eleven folio volumes in 
the Benedictine edition of Augustin s works.* 

They contain his views in every department of theol 
ogy, the rare treasures of his mind and heart, and a true 
expression of the deepest religious and churchly move 
ments of his age, and at the same time secured an im 
measurable influence upon all succeeding generations. 
He wrote out of the abundance of his heart, not to ac 
quire literary fame, but moved by the love of God and 
man. 

In point of learning he stands far behind Origen, Euse- 
bius, and Jerome ; but in originality, depth, and wealth 
of thought he surpasses all the Greek and Latin Fathers. 
He knew no Hebrew and very little Greek, as he mod 
estly confesses himself, f He neglected and disliked the 
noble language of Hellas in his youth, because he had a 
bad teacher, and was forced to it. But after his conver 
sion, during his second residence in Rome, he resumed 
the study of it, and acquired a sufficient elementary 
knowledge to compare the Latin version of the Script 
ures with the Septuagint and the Greek Testament. : 



* A considerable number of them have been translated into Eng. 
lish, especially the Confessions, and the City of God. See the Oxford 
"Library of the Fathers," 1837 sqq. ; "Works of Aurelius Augus 
tine," ed. by Marcus Dods, D.D., Edinburgh, 1871-1876, 15 vols. : 
and SchafTs edition, New York, 1886-88, 8 vols. 

f " Grcecce linguce perparum assecutus sum, el prope nihil." Contra 
Literas Petiliani II. 38. Comp. De Trinitate III. Prooem. ; Confess. I. 
14 ; VII. 9. 

\ He gives the etymology of several Greek words, as al&viov, 
ava&E[j.a, ey/cama, A<tyoc, etc. ; he correctly distinguishes between 
yevvdv and TLKTSIV, hrafyia&Lv and d-airrziv, t-v^r/ and Trpoaevxq, TTVO^ 
and TTvev/^a. He amends the llala in about thirty places from the 
Septuagint, and in three places from the Greek Testament (John 



140 SAINT AUGUSTIN. 

Gibbon, usually very accurate, underestimates him when 
he says that " the superficial learning of Augustin was 
confined to the Latin language," and that " his style, 
though sometimes animated by the eloquence of passion, 
is usually clouded by false and affected rhetoric."* The 
judgment of Dr. Baur, who had as little sympathy with 
Augustin s theology, but a far better knowledge of it, is 
more just and correct : " There is scarcely another theo 
logical author so fertile and withal so able as Augustin. 
His scholarship was certainly not equal to his genius ; 
yet even that is sometimes set too low, when it is asserted 
that he had no acquaintance at all with the Greek lan 
guage ; for this is incorrect, though he had attained no 
great proficiency in Greek." f 



viii. 25 ; xviii. 37 ; Horn. i. 3). He also corrects Julian, his Pelagian 
antagonist, by going back to the Greek. He explains the Greek mon 
ogram ix&vg (De Civ. Dei xviii. 23). He mentions the opinion (De 
Civ. Dei xx. 19) that in 2 Thess. ii. 4 we should render the Greek (elg 
rbv vabv TOV dsov), not in templo Dei, but more correctly in templum Dei, 
as if Antichrist and his followers were themselves the temple of God, 
the Church. He probably read Plotinus and Porphyry in the original. 
Comp. Loesche : De Augustino Plotudzante in dodrina de Deo, Jena, 
1880. 

* Decline and Fall, Ch. XXXIII. He adds that Augustin pos. 
sessed a strong, capacious, argumentative mind ; he boldly sounded 
the abyss of grace, predestination, free will, and original sin ; and 
the rigid system of Christianity which he framed or restored has 
been entertained with public applause and secret reluctance by the 
Catholic Church." He says in a note : " The Church of Home has 
canonized Augustin and reprobated Calvin." 

f Dogmengcsch. I. 1, p. 61 ; comp. the section on Augustin in the 
second volume of Baur s Church History. Compare also the judgments 
of Villemain, Tableau de r eloquence chretienne au IV* siecle, Paris, 1849 
p. 373 ; of Ozanam, La civilization au cinquieme siecle (vol. I. 272, in 
Glyn s translation); and the eloquent account of the veteran and 
liberal historian, Karl Hase, in the first volume of his Lectures on 
Church History, Leipzig, 1885, vol. I. 514 sqq. 



AUGUSTIN S WRITINGS. 141 

His style may indeed be blamed for verbosity, negli 
gence, and frequent repetition, but he says : " I would 
rather be censured by the grammarians than not under 
stood by the people ;" and, upon the whole, he had the 
language wholly at command, and knew how to wield 
the majestic power, the dignity and music of the Latin in 
a masterly manner. His writings are full of ingenious 
puns, and rise not seldom to strains of true eloquence 
and poetic beauty. Several of his pregnant sentences 
have become permanently lodged in the memory of the 
Christian world. Such words of genius and wisdom 
engraven upon the rock are worth more than whole libra 
ries written upon the sand. The following are among 
his most striking and suggestive thoughts : 

Cor nostrum inquietum est donee requiescat in Te. 
Our heart is restless until it rests in Thee 
Novum Testamenluin in Vettre latet, Vetus in Novo paid. 
The New Testament is concealed in the Old, the Old is revealed in 
the New. 

Ubi amor ibi trinilas. 

Where love is there is trinity. 

D : slingue tempora, et concordabit Scriptura. 

Distinguish the times, and the Scriptures will agree. 

Da quod jukes, eljube quod vis. 

Give what Thou commandest, and command what Thou wilt. 

Fides prcecedit intellectum. 

Faith precedes knowledge. 

Non vincil nisi verilas ; victoria veritatis est carilas. 

Truth only is victorious ; the victory of truth is charity. 

Nulla infelicitas frangit, quern f elicit as nulla corrumpit. 

No misfortune can break him whom no fortune corrupts. 

Deo servire vera libertas esl. 

To serve God is true liberty. 

To Augustin is also popularly but falsely ascribed the 
famous and beautiful device of Christian union : 

In necessariis unitas, in dubiis libfrtas, in omn bus caritas. 

In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity. 



142 SAINT AUGUSTIN. 

This sentence cannot be found in his writings. It is 
too liberal for a Catholic divine, and is probably of 
Protestant origin. It has been traced to Rupert Mel- 
denius and Richard Baxter, two irenical divines of the 
seventeenth century, one a German Lutheran or Melanch- 
thonian, the other an English Presbyterian, who in the 
midst of the fury of theological controversies grew Sick 
of strife and longed after union and peace. 

Since his productive period as an author extends over 
four decades of years, from his conversion to the even 
ing of his life, and since he unfolded himself before the 
eyes of the public, contradictions on many minor points 
were unavoidable ; wherefore, in old age, he subjected 
his literary career to a conscientious revision in his 
Retractions, and, in a spirit of genuine Christian hu 
mility, recalled much that he had maintained before 
from honest conviction. But not all his changes are im 
provements. He had more liberal views in his younger 
years. 

His philosophical writings, which were composed soon 
after his conversion, and which are yet full of Platonism, 
we have already mentioned. 

His theological works may be divided into five classes :* 

1. EXEGETICAL Writings. Here we may name his 
Expositions of the Sermon on the Mount (393), of the 
Epistle to the Galatians (394), of the Psalms (415), of 
John (416), his Harmony of the Gospels (400), and an 
extensive commentary on the first three chapters of 
Genesis (415). 

His strength lies not in knowledge of the original lan- 

* For a fuller account see the author s Church History, vol. III. 
(revised ed. 1884), p. 1005 sqq. For his philosophical works and 
opinions the reader is referred to Kitter, Erdmann, Uiberweg, Nour- 
rison, Gangauf , and A. Dorner, mentioned there, p. 989 and 1039. 



AUGUSTIN S WRITINGS. 14-3 

guages, nor in historical and grammatical exegesis, in 
which he was excelled by Jerome among the Latins, and 
Chrysostom, Theodoret, and Theophylact among the 
Greeks, but in the development of theological and relig 
ious thought. He depended mostly on the imperfect 
Itala, which was current before Jerome s Vulgate. 
Hertce he often misses the natural sense. But he had an 
uncommon familiarity and full inward sympathy with 
the Holy Scriptures, and often penetrates their deepest 
meaning by spiritual intuition. He is ingenious arid 
suggestive, even where he violates the grammar or loses 
himself in allegorical fancies. He exercised also a con 
siderable influence on the final settlement of the canon of 
Holy Scripture, whose limit was so firmly fixed at the 
Synods of Hippo in the year 393, and of Carthage in 
397, that even now it is universally received in the Cath 
olic and Evangelical churches, with the exception of a 
difference in regard to the value of the Old Testament 
Apocrypha, which the Council of Trent included in the 
Canon, while the Protestant Confessions exclude them 
or assign them a subordinate position. 

2. APOLOGETIC Writings. To these belong pre-emi 
nently his twenty-two books on the " City of God " (De 
Cimtate Dei), begun in 413 and finished in 426, in the 
seventy-second year of his life. It is his most learned 
and influential work. It is a noble and genial defence 
of Christianity and the Church, in the face of the ap 
proaching downfall of the old Roman Empire and classic 
civilization, in the face of the irruption of the wild, 
northern barbarians into Southern Europe and Africa, 
and in the face of the innumerable misfortunes and 
calamities by which the human race was scourged during 
that transition-period, and which were attributed by the 
heathen to the decay of the ancient faith in the gods, 



144 SAINT AUGUSTIN. 

and laid to the charge of Christianity. Augustin shows 
that all these events are the result of a process of internal 
putrefaction long since begun, a judgment to the heathen, 
and a powerful call on them to awake and repent, and at 
the same time a healthful trial to Christians, and the 
birth-throes of a new spiritual creation. Then he turns 
from the view of a perishing natural world and her rep 
resentative, the city of Rome, conquered and laid waste 
by Alaiic, the King of the Goths, in the year 410, to the 
contemplation of a higher, supernatural world to the 
City of God, founded by Christ upon a rock ; this city 
can never be destroyed, but out of all the changes and 
revolutions of time must rise, phoenix-like, with new 
power and energy ; and after the fulfilment of her 
earthly mission shall be separated even from external 
communion with the world, and enter into the Sabbath 
of eternal rest and spiritual repose. " The City of God " 
is the first attempt at a philosophy of history, viewed 
under the aspect of two antagonistic kingdoms. 

3. DOGMATIC and POLEMIC "Works. These are very 
numerous and important. Augustin was particularly en 
dowed as a speculative divine, a powerful reasoner, and 
an acute controversialist. There is scarcely a theolog 
ical question which he did not revolve in his niind over 
and over again. He ascended the highest heights and 
sounded the deepest depths of religious speculation. His 
opinions are always worth considering. He had very 
strong convictions, but was free from passion, and never 
indulged in personalities. He was forcible in matter 
and sweet in spirit, and spoke " the truth in love." 

Among his dogmatic works we mention the fifteen 
books on the Holy Trinity (against the Arians) ; the 
hand-book (Enchiridion) on Faith, Hope, and Love ; and 
the four books on Christian doctrine (De Doctrina 



AUGUSTIN S WRITINGS. 145 

Christiana), a herrneneutic dogmatic compendium for 
religious teachers, and instruction in the development of 
Christian doctrine from the Holy Scripture. 

His polemic treatises may again be divided into three 
classes : 

(a) Anti-Matiicfic&an Writings : " On the Morals of 
the Manichaeans ;" on the " Morals of the Catholic 
Church;" on "Free Will;" on the "Two Souls;" 
" Against Faustus," and others. They are the chief 
source of our knowledge of the Manichaean errors, and 
their refutation. They belong to his earliest works. 
They defend the freedom of will against fatalism ; after 
wards he changed his opinion on that subject. 

(b) Anti-Donatistic Writings : " On Baptism against 
the Donatists ;" " Against the Epistle of Parmenianus ;" 
" Against Petilianus ;" " Extract from the Transactions 
of the Religious Conference with the Donatists ;" and 
others. They are the chief source of our knowledge of 
the remarkable Donatistic schism in Africa, which began 
long before Augustin s time, and was overcome prin 
cipally by his intellectual ability. They treat chiefly of 
the essence and the attributes of the Church and her 
relation to the world, of the evil of schism and separa 
tion. They complete the development of the Catholic 
idea of the Church, her visible unity and universality, 
which was begun already by Ignatius and Irenseus, and 
carried on by Cyprian. They were composed between 
393 and 420. 

Unfortunately he approved also of coercive measures 
of state for the suppression of the separatistic movement, 
and supported it by a false exegesis of the passage, 
" Compel them to come in" (Luke xiv. 23). He thus 
furnished the chief authority in the middle ages for those 
cruel persecutions of heretics which blacken so many 



146 SAINT AUGUSTIN". 

pages of Church History, and from which, if he could 
have foreseen them, his own Christian feelings would 
have shrunk back in horror. Thus great and good men, 
even without intending it, have, through mistaken zeal, 
occasioned much mischief. 

(<?) Anti-Pelagian Writings, of the years 411-420, to 
which are to be added the anti- Semi- Pelagian writings 
of the last years of his life. We mention here the books 
" On Nature and Grace ;" u On Merit and Forgive 
ness ;" " On Grace and Free-Will ;" " On the Spirit 
and the Letter ;" " On Original Sin ;" " On the Pre 
destination of the Saints ;" " On the Gift of Persever 
ance" (De Dono Per sever antice) ; " Against Pelagius 
and Coelestius ;" " Against Julian" (a bishop of Eclanum 
in Apulia, infected with Pelagianism). In these treatises 
Augustin develops his profound doctrines of original sin, 
the natural inability of man for good ; of the grace and 
merit of Christ ; of eternal election ; of faith and per 
severance to the end in opposition to the shallow and 
superficial errors of the contemporaneous monks, Pela 
gius and Coelestius, who denied natural depravity, and 
just so far overthrew the value of divine grace in Christ. 

These books belong to his most meritorious labors, and 
are decidedly evangelical, though not free from exag 
gerations. They have exerted a greater influence on the 
Reformers of the sixteenth century, especially on Luther, 
Melanchthon, and Calvin, than any of his own or of all 
other human productions besides.* His anti-Pelagian 
views of sin and grace and divine foreordination are 
technically called u the Augustinian system," and this 



* I furnished a detailed representation of the Pelagian controversy 
and Augustin s views in connection with it for the " Bibliotheca 
Sacra and Theological Keview" of Andover for the year 1848, vol. v., 
p. 205-243, and in my Church History, vol. III., 783-865. 



AUGUSTEN S WRITINGS. 147 

again is often, though erroneously, identified with the 
Calvinistic system of theology. But he held along with 
it other views which are essentially Catholic and un- 
protestant, especially on the Church, on baptism, on jus 
tification, on asceticism. 

4. ASCETIC and PRACTICAL Writings. Among these 
we may number the " Soliloquies ;" " Meditations ;" 
"On the Christian Conflict;" " On the Excellency of 
Marriage," and a great mass of sermons and homilies, 
part of which were written out by himself and part taken 
down by his hearers. Of these there are about four 
hundred, besides those which that indefatigable editor of 
unpublished manuscripts, Cardinal Angelo Mai, has 
discovered among the treasures of the Vatican Library, 
and given to the press. 

5. AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL, or writings which concern his 
own life and personal relations. Here belong the inval 
uable " Confessions," already known to us his exhibi 
tion of himself to the time of his conversion ; the " Re 
tractions," his revision and self -correcting retrospect at 
the close of his splendid career in, the Church and the 
fields of literature ; lastly, a collection of two hundred 
and seventy letters, in which he exhibits a true picture 
of his external and internal life. 



148 SAINT AUGUSTUS. 



CHAPTER XXYI. 

THE INFLUENCE OF AUGUSTIN ON HIS OWN AND SUCCEED 
ING GENERATIONS. 

FROM this comprehensive mass of writings it is easy to 
determine the significance and influence of Augustin. 

In the sphere of theology, as well as in all other 
spheres of literature, it is not the quantity, but the qual 
ity of the intellectual product which renders it most 
effective. The apostles have written but little ; and 
yet the Gospel of St. John, for example, or the Epistle 
to the Romans exert more influence than whole libraries 
of excellent books yea, than the literatures of whole 
nations. Tertullian s "Apology;" Cyprian s short 
treatise on the " Unity of the Church ;" Anselm s " Cur 
Dens homo" and " Monologium /" Bernhard s tracts on 
" Despising the World," and on " The Love of God ;" 
the anonymous little book of u German Theology," and 
similar productions, which may be contained in a couple 
of sheets, have moved and blessed more minds than the 
numerous abstruse folio volumes of many scholastics of 
the Middle Ages and old Protestant divines. Augustin s 
" Confessions ;" the simple little book of the humble, 
secluded monk, Thomas a Kempis, on the " Imitation 
of Christ ;" Bunyan s "Pilgrim s Progress;" Arndt s 
" True Christianity," have each converted, edified, 
strengthened, and consoled more persons than whole 
ship-loads of indifferent religious books and commen 
taries. 

But Augustin was not only a voluminous writer, but also 
a profound thinker and subtle reasoner. His books, with 
all the faults and repetitions of isolated parts, are a spon- 



THE INFLUENCE OF AUGUSTIN. 149 

taneous outflow from the marvellous treasures of his 
highly-gifted mind and his truly pious heart. Although 
he occupied one of the smaller bishoprics, he was yet, in 
fact, the head and leading spirit of the African Church, 
around whom Aurelius of Carthage, the primate of 
Africa, Evodius of Uzala, Fortunatus of Cirta, Possidius 
of Calama, Alypius of Tagaste, and many other bishops 
willingly and gladly ranged themselves yea, in him 
the whole Western Church of antiquity reached its high 
est spiritual vigor and bloom. His appearance in the 
history of dogmas forms a distinct epoch, especially as it 
regards anthropological and soteriological doctrines, 
which he advanced considerably further, and brought to 
a greater clearness and precision than they had ever had 
before in the consciousness of the Church. For this was 
needed such a rare union of the speculative talent of the 
Greek, and of the practical spirit of the Latin Church 
as he alone possessed. As in the doctrines of sin and 
grace, of the fall of Adam and the redemption of Christ, 
the two cardinal points of practical Christianity, he went 
far beyond the theology of the Oriental Church, which 
devoted its chief energies to the development of the 
dogmas of the Holy Trinity and the person of Christ, so 
at the same time he opened up new paths for the prog 
ress of Western theology. 

Not only over his own age, but over all succeeding 
generations also, he has exercised an immeasurable influ 
ence, and does still, as far as the Christian Church and 
theological science reach, witli the exception of the 
Greek Church, which adheres to her own traditions and 
the decisions of the seven (Ecumenical Councils. It 
may be doubted if ever any uninspired theologian has 
had and still has so large a number of admirers and disci 
ples as the Bishop of Hippo. While most of the great 



150 SAINT AUGCSTIST. 

men in the history of the Church are claimed either by 
the Catholic or by the Protestant Confession, and their 
influence is therefore confined to one or the other, he 
enjoys from both a respect equally profound and endur 
ing. 

On the one hand, he is among the chief creators of the 
Catholic theology. Through the whole of the Middle 
Ages, from Gregory the Great down to the Fathers of 
Trent, he was the highest theological authority. Thomas 
Aquinas alone could in some measure contest this rank 
with him. By his fondness for speculation and his 
dialectic acumen he became the father of medieval 
scholasticism and at the same time, by his devotional 
fervor and spirit glowing with love, the author of 
mediseval mysticism. Hence the most distinguished 
representatives of scholasticism as Anselm, Peter Lom 
bard, Thomas Aquinas and the representatives of mys 
ticism as Bernhard of Clairvaux, Hugo of St. Victor, 
and Tauler have collectively appealed to his authority, 
been nourished on his writings, and saturated with his 
spirit. Even at this day the Catholic Church, notwith 
standing her condemnation of many doctrines of Augus- 
tin, under the names of Protestant, and Jansenist here 
sies, counts him among her greatest saints and most illus 
trious doctors. 

It must not be omitted that he is responsible also for 
many grievous errors of the Roman Church. He advo 
cated the principle of persecution ; he taught the damna 
tion of unbaptized infants ; he anticipated the dogma of 
the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary ; and 
his ominous word, Roma locuta est, causa finita est, 
might almost be quoted in favor of the Vatican decree 
of papal infallibility. These errors lie like an incubus 
on the Roman Church. Error is all the more tenacious 



THE INFLUENCE OF AUGUSTIN. 151 

and dangerous the greater the truth it contains, and the 
greater and wiser the man who advocates it. 

But, on the other hand, this same Augustin has also 
an evangelical- Protestant significance. Next to the 
Apostle Paul, he was the chief teacher of the whole body 
of the Keformers of the sixteenth century, and his ex- 
egetical and anti-Pelagian writings were the main source 
from which they derived their views on the depravity of 
human nature and the excellence of the forgiving, regen 
erating, and sanctifying grace of God in Christ, and op 
posed the dead formalism, self-righteous Pelagianism, 
and stiff mechanism of the scholastic theology and monk 
ish piety of that age. As is well known, they followed 
him from the very beginning even to the dizzy abyss of 
the doctrine of predestination, which Luther (in his work 
De Servo Arbitrio) and Calvin reproduced in its most 
rigorous form, in order to root out Pelagianism and 
Semi-Pelagianism, and with them all human boasting. 
Of Augustin they always speak with high esteem and 
love, which is the more remarkable because they are 
otherwise very free not only with the mediaeval school 
men, but with the ancient Fathers, and sometimes even, 
in the passionate heat of their opposition to slavish rever 
ence, treat them with neglect and contempt* 



* In this, as everywhere, Luther is especially outspoken and char 
acteristic. His contempt for Scholasticism, which he derives from 
" the accursed heathen Aristotle," is well known. Even the writings 
of Thomas Aquinas, for whom the Lutheran theologians of the seven 
teenth century had great respect, he once calls " the dregs of all 
heresies, error, and destruction of the Gospel." Neither did he spare 
the ancient Fathers, being conscious of the difference between Prot 
estant and Patristic theology. "All the Fathers," he once says 
without ceremony, " have erred in faith, and, if not converted before 
death, are eternally damned." " St. Gregory is the useless fountain- 
head and author of the fables of purgatory and masses for souls. He 



152 SAINT AUGUSTIN". 

I will add the most recent estimates of Augustin by 
Protestant historians in confirmation of the views ex 
pressed in this chapter. 



was very ill acquainted with Christ and His Gospel ; he is entirely 
too superstitious ; the Devil has corrupted him." On Jerome, whose 
Vulgata was indispensable in his translation of the Bible into Ger 
man, he was particularly severe on account of his monastic tenden 
cies and legalism. He calls him a " heretic who has written much 
profanity. He has deserved hell more than heaven. I know no one 
of the Fathers to whom I am so hostile, as to him. He writes only 
about fasting, virginity, and such things." For the same reason he 
condemns St. Basil, one of the chief promoters of monachism : 
" He is good for nothing ; is only a monk ; I would not give a straw 
for him." Of Chrysostom, the greatest expounder of the Scriptures 
and pulpit-orator of the Greek Church, but of whom certainly he had 
only the most superficial knowledge, he says, " He is worth nothing 
to me ; he is a babbler, wrote many books, which make a great show, 
but are only huge, wild, tangled heaps and crowds and bags full of 
words, for there is nothing in them, and little wool sticks." Now 
adays not a solitary Lutheran theologian of any learning will agree 
with him in this view. The Reformer was at times dissatisfied with 
Augustin himself, because, amid all his congeniality of mind, he 
could not just find in him his " sola fide." " Augustin has often 
erred, he is not to be trusted. Although good and holy, he was yet 
lacking in true faith as well as the other Fathers. Bat over against 
this casual expression stand a number of eulogies on Augustin. 

Luther s words must not be weighed too nicely, else any and everj*- 
thing can be proven by him, and the most irreconcilable contradic 
tions shown. We must always judge him according to the moment 
and mood in which he spoke, and duly remember his bluntness and 
his stormy, warlike nature. Thus, the above disparaging sentences 
upon some of the greatest theologians are partly annulled by his 
churchly and historical feeling, and by many expressions, like that 
in a letter to Albert of Prussia (A.D. 1532), where he declares the im 
portance of tradition in matters of faith, as strongly as any Catholic. 
In reference to the real presence of Christ in the Lord s Supper, he 
says : " Moreover this article has been unanimously believed and 
held from the beginning of the Christian Church to the present 
hour, as may be shown from the books and writings of the dear 
Fathers, both in the Greek and Latin languages, which testimony 



THE INFLUENCE OF AUGUSTUS. 153 

Dr. Bindemaiin, one of the best Protestant biographers 
of Augustin, thus sums up his estimate of his character 
and influence : " Augustin is one of the most extraordinary 
lights in the Church. In importance he takes rank be 
hind no teacher who has labored in her since the days of 
the apostles. It may well be said that the first place 
among the Church Fathers is due to him, and at the time 
of the Reformers only a Luther, by reason of the ful 
ness and depth of his spirit and his nobleness of charac 
ter, was worthy to stand at his side. He is the highest 
point of the development of the Western Church before 
the Middle Ages. From him the Mysticism, no less than 
the Scholasticism of the Middle Ages, has drawn its life ; 
he forms the mightiest pillar of Eornan Catholicism ; 
and the leaders of the Reformation derived from his 
writings next to the study of the Holy Scriptures, espe 
cially the Paulinian Epistles, those principles which gave 
birth to a new era." Dr. Kurtz (in the eleventh edition 
of his Church History, 1890) calls Augustin "the 
greatest, mightiest, and most influential of all the fathers, 
from whom the entire doctrinal and ecclesiastical devel 
opment of the Occident proceeded, and to whom it re 
turns again and again in all its turning-points." Dr. Carl 

of the entire holy Christian Church ought to be sufficient for us, even 
if we had nothing more. For it is dangerous and dreadful to hear or 
believe anything against the unanimous testimony, faith, and doctrine of 
the entire holy Christian Church, as it has been held unanimously in all the 
world up to this year 1500. Whoever now doubts of this, he does just 
as much as though he believed in no Christian Church, and con 
demns not only the entire holy Christian Church as a damnable 
heresy, but Christ Himself, and all the apostles and prophets, who 
founded this article, when we say, I believe in a holy Christian 
Church, to which Christ bears powerful testimony in Matt, xxviii. 
20 : Lo I am with you always to the end of the world, and Paul 
in 1 Tim. iii. 15 : The Church is the pillar and ground of the 
truth. " 



154 SAINT AUGUSTIN. 

Burk (in his Church History, 1885) says that in Augustin 
ancient and modern ideas are melted, and that to his 
authority the papal church has as much right to appeal 
as the churches of the Reformation. Karl Hase em 
phasizes the liberal features of Augustin, and remarks 
that " a right estimate of his importance as an author 
can only be made when we perceive how the scholastics 
and mystics of the Middle Ages lived upon his riches, 
and how even Luther and Calvin drew out of his depths." 
Harnack judges that between Paul and Luther no divine 
can be compared with Augustin for extent of influence. 

The great genius of the African Church, from whom 
the Middle Ages and the Reformation have received an 
impulse alike powerful, though in different directions, 
has not yet fulfilled the work marked out for it in the 
counsels of Divine Wisdom. He serves as a bond of 
union between the two antagonistic sections of Western 
Christendom, and encourages the hope that a time may 
come when the injustice and bitterness of strife will be 
forgiven and forgotten, and the discords of the past be 
drowned forever in the sweet harmonies of perfect 
knowledge and perfect love. 

This end may be afar off. It will come when the 
" City of God" is completed. " Then and there" (to 
use the closing words of his admirable work) u we shall 
rest and see, see and love, love and praise. This is 
what shall be in the end without end. For what other 
end do we propose to ourselves than to attain to the 
Kingdom of which there shall be no end ?" 

What Augustin has so beautifully said of men as indi 
viduals may, with great propriety, he applied also to the 
ages of the Church : " Thou, Lord, hast created us 
for Thyself, and our hearts arc restless until they rest in 
Thee. 



THE AUGUSTIXIAN SYSTEM. 165 

CHAPTER XXVII. 

THE AUGUSTINIAN SYSTEM. 

A FEW words more on the anti-Pelagian system of 
Augustin. which is so closely interwoven with the history 
of Protestant theology. It is imbedded in the Confes 
sions of the Reformation ; it ruled the scholastic theol 
ogy of the Lutheran and Reformed churches during the 
seventeenth century ; it was gradually undermined first 
by the A r mini an movement in Holland, then by the 
Wesley an Methodism in England and America, and by 
the rationalistic revolution of the last century, hut is still 
held by the schools of strict orthodoxy in the Lutheran 
and Calvinistic churches, with this difference, however, 
that the Lutheran Formula of Concord teaches a uni 
versal call in connection with a particular election, and 
rejects the decree of reprobation. 

The Roman Church accepted Augustinianism only in 
part and insubordination to her sacramentarian and sac 
erdotal system. The Greek Church ignored it altogether, 
although Pelagius was condemned with Nestorius by the 
(Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431, without a doc 
trinal statement of the controverted points. 

The Augustinian system assumes but one probation of 
man and but one act of freedom, which was followed by 
a universal slavery of sin and by a partial redemption ; 
God choosing by an eternal decree of grace from the 
mass of perdition a definite number of the elect for 
salvation, and leaving the rest to their deserved ruin. It 
suspends the eternal fate of Adam and his unborn pos 
terity, which he represented, upon a single act of dis 
obedience, which resulted in the damnation of untold 



15G SAINT AUOUSTIX. 

millions of immortal beings, including all unbaptized in 
fants dying in infancy. That act, with its fearful con 
sequences, was, of course, eternally foreseen by the 
omniscient God, and must in some sense also have been 
decreed or foreordained, since nothing can happen with 
out His sovereign and almighty will. Augustin and the 
Protestant Confessions stop within the infralapsarian 
scheme, which puts the fall only under a permissive 
decree, and makes Adam and the race responsible for sin. 
Here is an inconsistency, which has its root in a strong 
sense of God s holiness and man s guilt. The supm- 
lapsarian scheme, which was developed by a school in 
Calvinistic churches, but never obtained symbolical sanc 
tion, is logically more consistent, but practically more 
revolting by including the fall itself in an efficient de 
cree of God, and making sin the necessary means for 
the manifestation of divine mercy in the saved, and of 
divine justice in the lost. 

Melanchthon in his later years, and the Arminians 
after him, felt the speculative and moral difficulties of 
Augustinianism, but were no more able to remove them 
by their compromise theories than the Semi -Pelagians of 
old. Yea, even Calvin, while accepting in faith the ab 
solute decree, called it a " decretum horribile, attamen 
verum." 

Long before Augustin, Origen had taught another 
solution of the problem of sin, based on the Platonic 
theory of pre-existence ; he went even beyond the be 
ginning of history where Augustin began, and assumed 
a pre-historic fall of every individual soul (not of the 
race, as Augustin held), but also a final salvation of all. 

Schleiermacher combined the Augustinian or Calvin 
istic predestinarianism with the Origenistic restoration- 
ism, and taught a universal election, which unfolds itself 



THE AUGUSTINIAN SYSTEM. 157 

by degrees, and, while involving a temporary reprobation 
of the impenitent, results in the final conversion and res 
toration of all men to holiness and happiness. Pantheism 
goes still further, and makes sin a necessary transition 
point in the process of moral evolution, but thereby cuts 
the nerve of moral responsibility, and overthrows the 
holiness of God. 

Thus the deepest and strongest minds, both philoso 
phers and theologians, have been wrestling again and 
again with the dark, terrific problem of sin and death in 
its relation to an all- wise, holy, and merciful God, and 
yet have reached no satisfactory solution except that 
God overrules evil for a greater good. The Augustinian 
system contains a vast amount of profound truth, and 
has trained some of the purest and strongest types of 
Christian character among the Jansenists and Huguenots 
of France, the Calvinists of Holland, the Puritans of 
England, the Covenanters of Scotland, and the Pilgrim 
Fathers of New England. Nevertheless, as a system it 
is unsatisfactory, because it assumes an unconscious and 
yet responsible pre-existence of the race in Adam, and 
because it leaves out of sight the universal benevolence 
and impartial justice of God to all His creatures, and 
the freedom and individual responsibility of man, who 
stands or falls with his own actual sins. But it will re 
quire another theological genius even deeper and broader 
than Origen, Augustin, Thomas Aquinas, Calvin, and 
Schleiermacher, to break the spell of that system by sub 
stituting a better one from the inexhaustible mines of 
the Scripture, which contains all the elements and aspects 
of the truth, without giving disproportion to one and 
doing injustice to another. 

The study of history liberalizes and expands the mind, 
and teaches us to respect and love, without idolatry, 



158 SAINT AUGUSTIN. 

every great and good man notwithstanding bis errors of 
judgment and defects of character. There never was an 
unerring and perfect being on earth but One who is 
more than man, and who alone could say : " I am the 
Way, and the Truth, and the Life." 



LITERATURE. 

For the extensive bibliography on St. Augustin the reader is re 
ferred to Schaff s History of the Christian Church, vol. III., 988-90 and 
1938 sq. (last revision, 1889), and the Prolegomena to his Nicem 
and Post-Nicene Library, First Series (1886-90), vol. I., 1-3. 

The best edition of St. Augustin s Works, in the original Latin, is 
the Benedictine, Paris, 1679-1700, 11 torn, in 8 vols. fol., which has 
been several times reprinted e.g., by Gaume, Paris, 1836-39, and 
Migne, 1841-49 (in 12 vols.). The English translations have already 
been mentioned in Chapter XXV. 

The chief biographers of St. Augnstin are POSSIDIUS, his pupil and 
friend ; POUJOTJLAT, in French (Paris, 1843 and 1852, 2 vols.); C. 
BINDEMANN, in German (Berlin, 1844-69, 3 vols.). 

On his theology, see W. CUNNINGHAM : St. Austin and his Place in 
Christian Thought, Cambridge, 1886 ; H. REUTER : Augustinische 
Stadien, Gotha, 1887 ; and the able critique of the Augustinian sjs- 
tem by ADOLF HABNACK in the third volume of his Dogmengeschichte, 
Freiburg i. B., 1890, pp. 3 sqq. ; 54 sqq. ; 84 sqq. ; 151 sqq. 

The present biography is a free reproduction and enlargement of 
the author s Der heil. Augustinufi. Sein Lcbcn und Wirken, published 
by W. Hertz, in Berlin, 1854. An English translation by his friend, 
Prcfessor Thomas C. Porter, D D., was published by J. C. Riker. 
New York, 1854, and Samuel Bagster & Sons, London, 1854. 



DR. SCHAFF S WORKS. 



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